Thursday, February 28, 2013

"I hate to eat and run..."

He's been an excellent member of our society for 46 years bow, so now, as a reward, Andrew Palmer (photo) is going to be treated to a year of free room and board courtesy of the great state of Maryland. 

His crime?  He's not so much a dashing diner as he is a dine-and-dasher.

Mr Palmer, before his unfortunate incarceration came between him and the nicer eateries in town, made a habit of running up a large tab for a dinner and then faking a seizure, in order to ankle out on the bill.

His most recent gobbles took place at Shucker's, where he shoved $62 worth of grub down his neck before tossing himself earthward for a ride to a hospital, and a supreme chowdown at Sullivan's ($161, same modus operandi.)

And for those saying, "Wow, all he did was cheat a restaurant out of some money!" I would remind you that a) because HE rips off these beaneries, YOU pay more.  The owners aren't going to eat these losses, as it were.  And what's more, b) he has been convicted more than four dozen times for this offense in the past.

Sending Palmer to the No-Holiday Inn for 365 suppers should teach him a lesson.  I certainly hope so.   He's a thief, convicted, and belongs in the sin bin. 

I'll bet he's a lousy tipper, too!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Say it, don't spray it

I like reading my local Perry Hall Patch, the online newspaper that does what the big paper doesn't have as a priority - -covering the auto accidents, burglaries and supermarket openings that aren't big news, but are news nonetheless.

This is why I was surprised to see that someone had spray-painted "PERRY HALL PATCH MADE ME DO THIS" on the back of the drycleaning establishment by the Carney Library.

I guess the person with the can of paint in his/her hand has been in trouble with the law over tagging buildings in the past, and maybe the Patch had an article about it, and maybe that offended the painter somehow.

Why be mad at the news sites?  They only report the news they get from the police reports and the trial results, which are online and available for anyone to see anyway. 

Why go around spray painting to begin with?  That's what I don't get.  I know we all have the need to express ourselves.  That's only natural.  But you have to express yourself where and how you can.  F'rinstance, you can't show up at a tv station or network and demand to be put in front of a camera so as to go on the air and bloviate wildly (except, apparently, FOX News, which seems to allow anyone to read the "news".) You can't order a newspaper, book publisher or magazine to publish your memoirs, no matter how interesting they might be.   The great thing about the modern age is, you can write a blog and put it on the internet (apparently they allow any crackpot to do that) (!) or you can write your screed, print a thousand copies, and go hand it out on street corners.

And yes, it's perfectly fine to go around spray painting your words on buildings.  But, only if you OWN the building.  Otherwise, no go.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

First Aid

Dressed as you see her pictured here, actress Charlize Theron was outside of the theater where the Academy Awards were to be doled out on Sunday night.

A security guard collapsed, and Charlize, in a white Christian Dior Haute Couture dress with Roger Vivier shoes, ran over to help him.

From what the newspapers say, the man was having a seizure, and she stayed with him while others in the moiling crowd went for medical assistance.

Minutes later, she was dancing with Channing Tatum, as Seth MacFarlane sang "The Way You Look Tonight."

And how come only one man stood up to help Jennifer Lawrence when she took her tumble?

A few points: I wouldn't know which dressmaker made which dress and I think it marginalizes a person to ask them right up front, "Who are you wearing?" as they do on those red carpet shows.  The question is ill-structured grammar, and it makes it seem that the person is not even as important as the person who designed their dress.

Point the second, Ms Theron is a lovely woman, she looked very pretty, and she danced very well.

Point the third, it's always nice to see a person, no matter their station in life, rush over to help another in need. You don't have to be a cardiac surgeon to assist a person in seizure. Ease them to the floor, try to roll them on their left side, check for breathing and a Medic Alert bracelet, and keep them from hurting themselves are the main guidelines.

But it's best to do something.  Even if all you do is the least you can do, do something!

Monday, February 25, 2013

I Can Haz Questions

We use the word "meme" to describe "an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture."  That's according to Merriam-Webster, and I would also point out that the French use the word "même" to mean "same."  Of course, I would also point out that they eat snails over there.

If you spend any time at all on the internet, especially social sites, you see memes all the time.  Some of them, such as photos of empty chairs saluting the time that Clint Eastwood got up to speak at a political convention and removed the final vestiges of doubt as to whether he had gone around the bend by talking to an empty chair, are short-lived.

Some of them carry seemingly infinite variations on a theme.  America's ability to put words on a picture of a cat and send it to everyone's computer is boundless. 

Those pass-arounds mentioned above - the sort of thing that we used to Xerox to mail around -  are jokes, and provide something to talk about when people walk away from their cubicles and head to the office lunchroom in hopes that their lunch has not been ripped off yet.  Nothing wrong with sharing them.

But there is the other kind, and something bothers me when I get that "I'm tired" essay, purported to be written by Bill Cosby, served up as if fresh.  Just off the top of my head, I can think of Andy Rooney, Bill Gates and Morgan Freeman as other noteworthy people to whom these treatises are credited.  

In the case of the "I'm Tired" causerie that people send around so as to say, "Look!  Even Bill Cosby agrees with me!", Cosby himself says he doesn't agree with the ugly sentiments in the piece.  That one in which a lighthouse tries and tries to get a ship to change its course:  bogus.  

A quick trip to the great website usually clears up any confusion.  The people there are ahead of all these rumors and have already investigated them, so that people can find out whether or not that hilarious rumor about Facebook charging a monthly fee is true or not (it isn't, but you can send me the money just the same!)

What really is disturbing is not the way so many of us put credence in these things and share them right away with everyone we know, but this: somewhere in this wonderful world we live in, lonely people are sitting at keyboards right this minute, cribbing essays from smalltown newspapers and graduation speeches made by local Kiwanis club members, and putting them on the internet, claiming that "Ben Affleck said this!"  

That's sad, is what that is.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sunday Rerun: Tales of Hoffman, and DeNiro

I watched Letterman the other night because Robert DeNiro and Dustin Hoffman were coming on.  I subject myself to these ego baths now and again, and I don't really know why.

The two beloved actors were promoting their new movie, "Little Fockers," which is the 27th time that some studio has watered down, reheated, and re-served this same pot of soup.  But here's the key: if you watch late night talk shows, you know they are a natural place for actors to show up, talk about their new movie, tell a self-deprecating story or two, show a clip from the flick, and move along.

DeNiro and Hoffman are not familiar with the word "self-deprecating," nor could they bring themselves to ask the audience to put down some money and go to see their movie.  To do so would sink them into the morass of commerce, and it's clear that they think of themselves as artists, above the common rabble of box-office concerns.

As I sat and watched these titanic thespians behave on Letterman's couch like a couple of ninth-graders in the principal's office for throwing spitballs in class, I thought of these tips for any other actor who might find him-or-herself in the awful position of actually having to beat the drum for the latest turgid semi-comedy that they are starring in for the purpose of earning a few quick million bucks:
  • When you are introduced to wild and unbridled applause, just shamble onto the set as if looking for sox at Sears, acknowledge your cheering fans with a barely-perceptible nod of your noble chin, and slump into the sofa, as bored as you can be.
  • While seated, stare at either the ceiling (Hoffman) or 180° away (DeNiro) from the host who is speaking to you so reverently.  For a few minutes, I thought old Dustin was having a physiological problem that caused his chin to be perpendicular to his chest.
  • Continue slumping, and feign being mute (DeNiro) so that Hoffman can claim to be your "whisperer" as you sit, gazing into the middle distance.
  • Do not wear a tie.  Do that new thing where you wear a suit and have your neck wide open, Goober-style.
  • When the host mentions the movie in any context, stare stone-facedly as if he had mentioned supermarket shopping carts or something similarly unremarkable.
  • Refer to movies as "films" and to being an actor as "your craft" or "work."  
  • If you deign to speak at all, do so in monosyllabic answers, nuanced grunts, or meaningless giggles.
  • Above all, make it very very plain that you regard appearing on television as a fate worse than death. Act as if you were Julia Child caught scarfing a Big Mac, or Stephen Hawking reading a Hardy Boys thriller.
  • When the host attempts to introduce the clip from the movie you are there to promote, claim to know nothing about the clip, what scene it shows, or even why anyone should watch it.
  • Mention one of your old movies, and then when the crowd cheers for it, glare at them and say, "I wasn't BEGGING!"  (Hoffman)
  • Act like you are doing an impersonation of Robert DeNiro or Dustin Hoffman.
Now this is an actor!
 I thought of all these things while wondering why these two self-important bozos have cupboards full of Oscar® awards, and Ed O'Neill has none. But I hope Dave will have him on soon.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Saturday picture show, 2/23/13

The Smithsonian always has interesting articles and pictures about American history.  At right, here is a picture of some Confederate soldiers with a piece of heavy artillery.  By the use of Photoshop, the magazine was able to add color to the photos (as seen at left.)  If you click on the link above, you'll see plenty of other pictures modernized.  That was an interesting phase in American history!

Hampton Elementary School is one of the many schools I call my alma mater.  It's the only school in which I ever spent six years, although my senior year in high school felt like it was that long.  But there I am on the back row, encircled by a golden halo (how apropos) and the funny thing is...this was 1958 and I still am in touch with a good handful of the young men and women you see here, largely thanks to this internet thing that seems to be catching on.  Mrs Waters, you must be in your 80s by now, and you taught us well.  Thanks, and again, I'm sorry about the cafeteria incident.

Free wallpaper for winter lovers.  I don't know where this location is, nor whether this is sunrise or sunset.  All I know is, it's cold, and snowy, and we haven't had a decent snow here since I don't know when.  Well, I do know when, but I'm reticent to say.

So you say you're SURE this is a dude in a bear suit? How sure are you?  Remember, this is Russia, you know, where the people are hardier and, following logic, the bears must be as well.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The worst type of person

There's a nice big brick house just off Providence Road, near the house where I was raised.  I used to see a man there puttering around in the yard; a time or two, I'd see him bringing in the trash cans or doing some chore.

Just this week I have come to realize who the man was.  And, sadly, he is no more.  He was Dr Nikita Levy, an OB-GYN with the Johns Hopkins Medical System. 

Check this timeline:  on February 3, just a couple of weeks ago, when the Ravens won the Super Bowl, Dr Levy was still in good standing.  On the 4th, the hospital became aware that he had been photographing and videotaping his patients, most assuredly without their permission.  He was fired on February 8th, and took his life at that house in Providence this past Monday.

We'll never know the why; he left a suicide note which is not being made public, but the authorities do say that he apologized to his wife in it.  His wife, who one month ago was the wife of a respected doctor, and today finds herself the widow of a suicidee with a ruined reputation.  Who knows how she will go on?  Does she receive the proceeds of his insurance; will her bank balances be eaten away by the lawsuits being filed? 

Lawyers are running full page ads in the local papers, and on line, looking for Levy's erstwhile patients and offering them compensation for the horror of being abused as they were.  You might say the lawyers are circling in the troubled waters.

At my age, nothing should surprise me except for my age, but I just read that there is such a thing in this world as gynecology fetish pornography.  So now, there will be investigations into the demimonde of people who find it sexually stimulating to see a woman being examined in that manner.

The people looking into this are going to feel like they are turning over rocks down by a fetid swamp, and finding all sorts of bizarre flora and fauna. 

In fact, I don't know which fact is more upsetting: that there are people who get off to videos like that, or that there are doctors who produce and distribute videos like that.

All indications are that his wife had absolutely no knowledge of his disgusting hobby.  We have to feel very sorry for her. 

Now, quick, someone else tell me that pornography production is a victimless crime.  I have a reply all ready for you.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fedora the Explorer

Snap-brim Fedora.  I can't wear it!
I like to wear hats.  Baseball hats for shade and keeping the rain drops off my face, stocking hats or beanies for keeping the melon warm in winter, a beekeeper's mask for when I want to go unrecognized.  Hats hats hats.  You can show the world what team you like or what your hobby is by wearing the right hat, and, in so doing, tell the world what kind of person you are.

Those of you who know my lovely wife Peggy will not be able to name a time you have seen her in public wearing a hat.  So well-groomed and turned out is she that she will forsake warm ears for having great hair.  The most she will do is to lightly wrap a scarf around her coiffure.  The most I will do is ask her if she wants a hat, and then back up to receive a look and a shake of her head, indicating that I should know better than to even ask

There is the dreaded beret, so popular in France, but I wonder why.  It has no brim, and it doesn't cover your ears or provide shade.  Outside of looking vaguely European, I don't know what advantage there is to a beret.

I want to wear a fedora. 

Classic porkpie

But, even as I gambol about town in Orioles, Ravens, Alabama and other head coverings, I simply cannot pull off the fedora look.  For years I've wanted to be the guy with the fedora - or even cooler, the porkpie hat.  But this look seems to be the exclusive province of hipsters, racetrack touts and musicians who work with Elvis Costello.  And Elvis Costello.

I have tried, even went as far as donning a porkpie in a store, and I felt like a scornful crowd was gathering at once, demanding that I be able to name at least one song by the Dave Matthews Band before I could sport a fedora.

And I could never do that, either.  I'll see you soon.  I'll be the guy under an Orioles hat!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Needle and the damage done

Dear lady who took my blood,

We didn't really get a chance to talk, because you called me into your lab room to take my blood for an upcoming physical by calling my name into a room around the corner, and then when I lumbered down the hall to where you were, you said either,"Good morning, how are you?"  or, "Brazilian copper exports are at an all-time low this morning" because you mumbled so low I couldn't make it out.

And then when you had me make a fist, your idea of communicating this direction by pantomime was brilliant.  You curled your fingers back toward your palm and invited me to do the same by pointing the uncurled index finger at me. 

And thank you for snapping your gum in my ear as you inserted the needle.  Not having had breakfast at that point, I found the fragrance of Juicy Fruit to be just simply enchanting at quarter til eight.

And then, when you were finished filling your vials with my blood, look at how much time you saved by not saying anything after "hold this" while you put on two strips of adhesive tape to hold down the gauze.  Without another word, I was finished, out the door, thanks so much, let's stay in touch.

Look, I don't need or want the royal treatment anywhere I go.  Just simple common courtesy would be nice, and a modicum of person-to-person communication. 

I see all sorts of people in jobs where part of the training should have included these words:  "You're going to be dealing with the public and representing our multi-million dollar firm to them.  All of the advertising that we do, all the money we invest in technology and building support for this operation, and all the time and effort we put into running this business will be wasted if you - the only person from this corporation who might have direct contact with a member of the public  - cannot comport yourself with dignity and establish a certain rapport with the person you're serving."

I know it was early on a Monday morning when we met, and no one likes to work early on a Monday.  And let's face it, sticking needles in people and drawing blood from their elbow region is not the sort of work that allows for a great yield of self-expression and joy.

But, if you want to get ahead, if you want to be the one in the big honcho's office running the company instead of  wielding the needles as the sun comes up on a cold day, please consider adding a little friendliness and a human touch to your phlebotomy skills.  You're really good with that!  No bruise, no pain.

But no smile, either.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Having a little class

Fans of jurisprudent intelligence can take cheer in the decision last Thursday, a decision made by Northampton County  (Pennsylvania) Judge Emil Giordano.  In a lawsuit filed by Megan Thode, a former student at Lehigh University, the judge's wise and reasoned ruling was that Ms Thode should tell her story walking.

Thode was taking a graduate-level therapist internship course in 2009 and she got a C+ in the course.  Her grade was brought down by getting zero points out of 25 possible points in the area of class participation from the instructor, Amanda Eckhardt. Professor Eckhardt said that Ms Thode participated in class all right, but what she contributed was not all right.  Her testimony was that Thode had outbursts in class, did not participate appropriately, was emotionally unstable, and failed to heed a warning letter.

Not surprisingly, Thode had an attorney on her side during the trial, in which she was suing to get the grade changed to a higher one so she would be able to be licensed as a therapist.  Oh, and 1.3 million semolians would also help her feel better, too, thanks.

Her attorney, the noted barrister Richard Orloski, claimed that the source of the friction between the two women is that Eckhardt opposes same-sex marriage and Thode is an ardent supporter thereof.  And while requirements for members of the class included participating in a professional manner, giving and taking feedback with others and analyzing their own behaviors and perspectives, in Professor Eckhardt's view, Thode carried on in class to such an extent that she deserves no higher grade than what she got.

The judge sided with the university, which makes sense to this observer.  In the course of my checkered academic career, I often had differences of opinion with teachers, who felt it only reasonable to expect me to a) show up in class  b) study now and then and c) refrain from hollering out punch lines from old burlesque jokes during class. 

Take my wife, please!...

A car hits an elderly man. The paramedic says, "Are you comfortable?  The man shrugs, "I make a living."

I just got back from a pleasure trip. I took my mother-in-law to the airport...
I've been in love with the same woman for 49 years! If my wife ever finds out, she'll kill me!
 Amusing as my teachers seemed to find these, they always wondered why a kid in elementary school knew them.  They never met my grandfather, is all I'm going to say.

Pictured above is my second grade class.  I am encircled by a golden halo, not for the first time. Next to me is Pam Schute, now a physician in California and still as lovely as ever. But in the very front row, you will see the also-still-lovely Jean Lillquist, Carol Boone and Mary Hays Vollmer, three wonderful friends who are also still in touch thanks to the wonderful computer invented by people who paid attention in class!  Always great to relive those memories!



Monday, February 18, 2013

Holding the Bag

Sometimes, it pays to look a little more deeply into things.

I thought this story from KSDK, channel 5 in St. Louis, MO, was just another of those stories of a mass-reproduced spelling error.  Missouri State University, home of the "Boomer Bears" in lovely Springfield, MO, handed out 6,000 bookbags in their bookstore last month.  As you see, someone had a little trouble spelling "university."

This happens far too often.  In 2011, Georgetown University in scenic Washington DC, temporary home of the "Boehner Boors," handed out graduation programs with the word misspelled the same way they do it out in old St. Loo.  And then, to show that no one is perfect, Georgetown sent out a letter to all the graduates and their families promising to send a corrected copy of the program to anyone requesting same.  And the letterhead of that letter listed the school's "facsimilie" number, in case you wanted to send them a "facks" (as I once saw it put).

But!  That spelling goof wasn't even the most interesting part of the story.  As the article says, all this commotion occurred when the college was just getting a new bookstore director, Sandra Ropp Reinartz, in place. 

The job came open last August when the previous director of the bookstore, one Mark Brixey, resigned when he was unable to explain either a $500,000 shortage in the bookstore's accounts, or why there was $81,000 in cash in his desk.

When I worked at the A&P and had to run a register one day, I was $20 short at the end of the day and I felt bad about it.  For a $500,000 shortage, I would have really apologized very sincerely.

Before he resigned in disgrace
And when I had various desk jobs over the years, I might have had a total of $3.47 in change floating around in the middle drawer, right near the box of staples, glue sticks, stress balls, pens that had dried up shortly after the Kennedy inauguration, and outdated Oriole schedules.  I did once have a desk in the basement of the same building in which, years before, Spiro T. Agnew happily accepted bags full of bribe money from paving contractors, but no one came down to my dim warren to offer me tributes of any sort. I don't think there were any words misspelled on the canvas loot bags handed over to the crooked vice-president.

Meanwhile, in Springfield, MSU said an investigation is ongoing, but Brixey has not been charged with a crime.  I mean, after all.  What sort of "univeristy" would rush to judgement on a mere half a million?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday rerun: To "Sir" With Love

Well, the big news here in the big town this week past was that Elton John came to play a concert at the Civic Arena.  Yes, "Sir," he did!  He was knighted in his native England a couple of years ago, and now disc jockeys and news types love to call him ''Sir" Elton John, but since I am not a British citizen, I don't have to and you don't either.   They crack me up over there with their royalty, spending thousands upon thousands of pounds on solid gold carriages for the royal family.  And I am of English blood, although my prospects for knighthood seem to have diminished sharply.  But someday I hope to understand the appeal of this royal structure, the caste system that allows the working class to be regarded as "commoners" while the Duke of Worcestershire acts so saucy about being upper-class.

A friend of ours went to the EJ concert downtown and reported that the people in the row in front of her and her boyfriend were falling-down-drunk, projectile barfing, getting up and down at least four times and falling down the steps.  I was hardly surprised to read that they were "older" people.  This is 70's concert behavior all over again: spend a fortune to get a ticket to hear one of your favorite performers and then show up for the show so wasted that you don't hear a sober note - and for bonus obnoxiousness, you put a crimp in the enjoyment of others as you do the technicolor yawn all over their seating area.  Someday I hope to understand the allure of being publicly drunk and asinine.

And I'm sorry, Peggy. As much as I love you, I still prefer poems that rhyme. Novel concept, I know.  But give me Nipsey Russell: 

Don't change the baby on the waterbed,
the consequences might be grim.
You'll never know if he's wetting the bed
or the bed is wetting HIM!

over this sort of thing:
Flames          by Billy Collins
Smokey the Bear heads
into the autumn woods
with a red can of gasoline
and a box of wooden matches.

His ranger's hat is cocked
at a disturbing angle.

His brown fur gleams
under the high sun
as his paws, the size
of catcher's mitts,
crackle into the distance.

He is sick of dispensing
warnings to the careless,
the half-wit camper,
the dumbbell hiker.

He is going to show them
how a professional does it. 
Here is my problem with calling this poetry.  Actually, two problems.  First is that "Smokey the Bear heads into the autumn woods..." sounds like the opening line of a gag ("Smokey the Bear walks into a bar...")  and the second is, change the punctuation a little, and you have a tiny essay or something.  Just taking prose and chopping it up does not make it poetry, in my opinion.  

To make my point, here's a news article right off the press wire:

Orioles solid as Red Sox lose 10th straight

The Associated Press
SARASOTA, Fla. - Some players use spring training to get ready for the regular season. Others hope to make an impression on the manager while fighting for a roster spot.
Baltimore Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman came to camp with a good chance to make the starting rotation, but instead of getting wrapped up in the competition, the 22-year-old focused on becoming a better pitcher.
Tillman continued the process Sunday, allowing three runs in 52/3 innings to help the Orioles beat the Boston Red Sox 4-3.

And here it is as free verse:

Some players
use spring training
to get ready 
for the regular season. 
Others hope to make an impression
on the manager
while fighting for a roster spot.
Baltimore Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman came to camp 
with a good chance 
to make the starting rotation,
instead of getting wrapped up in the competition, 
the 22-year-old focused on
becoming a better pitcher.
Tillman continued the process
allowing three runs in 5 2/3 innings
to help the Orioles beat the Boston Red Sox

I tried this with the online recipe for Arugula Surprise and the Dow-Jones averages, but it wasn't as funny.  One more from Nipsey, please?

I just saw a move about a mermaid.
Did I like it? I don't know why!
There's not enough woman to make love to,
and too much fish to fry!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Saturday Picture Show, 2/16/13

I find the nuttiest things on the internet and I think it's my responsibility to share them.  Like when I see a cartoon featuring an enraged elephant in man's clothing embroiled in a heated dispute with a monkey wearing a fez, I think people need to see it. Am I wrong?

This ought to make you feel good if you plan to join this army.  They really believe in empowerment and helping their soldiers become fully self-actualized over there, wherever "there" is. These guys have so many campaign ribbons and battlefield medals that they have to wear the newest ones on their pants.  Let's hope they are careful with the pins on those lower ones, or they'll get another medal for an injury that no man wants.
I think the perspective might be a little off here; it would appear that this traveling meteorite is roughly the size of earth.  It appears to be taking aim at Africa, but then again, the earth revolves, right?  So the meteorite's going to miss the earth, right?  RIGHT?
Here sits a happy woodpecker.  He had a job to do and he doggone well went and did it!  He pecked himself a nice hole in the tree and now he has a home.  I wonder about two things: how long it took to drill out that circular opening, and if there are any other names for woodpeckers other than "Woody."

Friday, February 15, 2013

Got to Cerebrate It

I'm always on the alert for changes in our language since Sarah Palin, former half-governor of Alaska tried to explain her use of "refudiate" by saying that English is a living language.

It won't be living for much longer, with people misusing it and then comparing themselves to Shakespeare.  And to noted wordsmith Geo. W. Bush, who coined "misunderestimate" for us.

But my friend Jennifer Lantz pointed out that there is a divide between the younger generation and, well, the, uh, older generation, in terms of the word "swag."

For reasons best known to themselves (I called Chris Brown to ask, but got no answer) the younger set uses "swag" when they mean "swagger" or "sharp appearance.  As in, "He showed up for his first day on the job rocking a lot of swag."

For those of us who were speaking English before it "b came OK 2 rite n e damn way u wanna," the word "swag" refers to the proceeds of an operation, with a hint that the operation was not quite on the up-and-up (burglary, piracy, embezzlement, bags full of bribe money handed to Spiro Agnew when we was vice-president of the United States.)  Add to that the fact that crooks and pirates tend to swagger around when they talk, and you can see how the words are being conflated.

I mean confl8ed. Sorry. That's the 411. TTYT.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Helping, and then helping again

I don't think there is anything more quintessentially American than a volunteer fire company.  They were even started by Benjamin Franklin!  Among his other notable contributions to our nation, he started the Union Fire Company in 1736, up in Philadelphia.

Here in Baltimore County, MD, we have a top-ranked fire department with over 50 stations around the county.  Some of the stations are career stations, staffed by county-paid personnel, and there are 33 volunteer stations, where the men and women of the community spend countless hours training for, preparing for, and responding to emergencies of all types.

A great example of the volunteer fire company in our county is the Providence Volunteer Fire Company, at 1416 Providence Rd, outside Towson.  Full disclosure: I was a member there for many years in my early days, and still maintain a fond relationship with the folks over there as an "alumnus."  They even have an Old-Timers banquet every spring, where the current members get to hear us wizened old guys weave tales of the "big ones" from bygone days.  The young men and women are always very kind about hearing the same stories over and over again.

The bad fire from this past Sunday
Well, the other day there happened to be a very bad house fire right up the street from the station. If not for a lot of well-trained and hardworking firefighters from Providence and some of the other nearby stations, it could have been so much worse, but the family's home and possessions were severely damaged.

As sad as it makes me to think of a family suffering such a loss, it makes me just that glad that the people at Providence are joining in the community effort to try to replace some of the vital everyday items that a family needs (and takes for granted will be there every day and night.)  Channel 2 was even doing a story about this last night...

If you live around Towson, or if you wish to drive over that way (beltway exit 28, then a mile north), I hope you'll consider looking around in your pantry or closet, or stopping off at a store, and dropping off one or some of the items listed below. You may drop off your kind donations right at the fire house.  If you need further information, the contact is Lt. Dean Denning; his information is below, or you may send me a message if you wish.  The family wrote back to the fire company and listed their most urgent needs...


At the request of the Family from the recent house fire, the Providence Vol. Fire Co. will be accepting the following items: 

Paper Products-napkins, paper towels, paper plates, toilet paper
Medicine Cabinet Restock-first aid kit, extra band-aids, peroxide, alcohol, neosporin, therometer, ibuprofen, tylenol, aleve, cough med-Delsyum, cough drops, tums
Kitchen size trashbags
Dish soap
Hand Soap
Liquid Laundry Det.
Fabric Softener
Dryer sheets
Box Mac and Cheese
Chicken noodle Soup

In addition, we will be accepting small ($25 maximum) GIFT CARDS for retailers that sell these "necessities" and 'wanted' items.

Items may be dropped off at the Fire Station at any time !

The family has not requested any clothing, dishes, or other textiles...clothes for the children have been cleaned by the restoration company and are being returned tomorrow morning. We are well stocked. The dishes and other textiles I am holding off on, because we do not need them yet and since we are renting and will be moving from our current to rental and then later back home, I am trying to limit how much we have to move and pack up.

Other items that the family would love but are not necessities: outside toys like football balls, soccer balls, games for outside, skate boards, etc., board games like chess, checkers, guess who, monopoly...
Comfort treats: cake and brownie mix, blueberry muffin mix...they love to bake with me and make special desserts.

Family Details:
Male child 17-Likes soccer, rugby, Ravens, snowboarding, skateboarding, guitar (Junior )
Male child 14-Likes soccer, gaming, music-plays steel drums and keyboard (8th grade )
Male child 12-sports, especially soccer, learning guitar, anything outside (7th grade ) BIRTHDAY Later this week!
Female 12-soccer, swimming, loves to read and write, animals, especially dogs, exploring outside (7th grade) BIRTHDAY later this Week !
Male child 8-sports, playing anything outside, animals, hanging out with big sis (2nd grade )

Please contact Lieutenant Dean Denning with specific questions about donations @ 443-790-2060 OR

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Fulk if they know

You have to be quite the television fan to be able to identify actor Kevin Brophy, one-time star of the 1977 show "Lucan" about a boy raised by wolves, or actor Peter Barton, who spent six years of his precious life portraying Dr Scott Grainger on "The Young and the Restless."

I was a big fan of "Y&R" at one time in my life, and have a dim memory of this Grainger character dating the wonderful Cricket, only to see the romance derailed when it came to light that the two were half-siblings. This sort of yuckiness might have contributed to my eventual disinterest in the goings-on in Genoa City, and I was soon to switch my daytime viewing allegiance to "The Price Is Right," in which even if someone were to go with their half-sister, they would keep it to themselves while sliding Plinko chips toward that $10,000 slot.

According to the IMDb website, Barton's résumé must have fallen behind the file cabinets of most Hollywood casting directors, while it might be interesting to hear how Brophy fed himself between acting in the 1998 movie "I'm Losing You" and the 2012 classic "Book of 1000 Deaths."  These are not people who are likely to rise from a seat in a crowded auditorium when the Oscars are being handed out, unless they were just keeping a seat warm for Adrien Brody or something.

Another man of whom you may never have heard is Ray Fulk, who lived to be 71 on a 160-acre property in Lincoln, Illinois.  Ray died last June, in a house on that property described as an "absolute filthy mess."  As so often happens with these poorly adjusted hermits, he was not just filthy, but also filthy rich. His property will bring in over a million dollars, and his other assets were worth a quarter of a million.  

So what context brings together Brophy, Barton and Fulk?  Well, it seems that Fulk liked these two dudes and their acting, so he left them his entire estate to split, save for $5,000 he bequeathed to his local anti-animal cruelty organization.  There's no indication that the actors, who are friends, ever knew of Fulk.  The news story says that Barton, who after all would seem to have time for such things, traveled to Illinois to check out the provenance of his windfall.

Let it be known that while I am a big fan of Norm MacDonald, Britney Spears and Bruce Willis, none of those people should plan on dining out on anything they will receive as proceeds from my demise. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Buy me some peanuts!

At long last, our awful nightmare has come to an end.  I mean, it's been since last Sunday the 3rd of February that the Ravens played (and won, if you didn't get your morning paper on the 4th) in the Super Bowl.

And since then, no sports.  What an awful nine-day stretch.  But today, the heavens open, little birds braid the hair of beautiful young girls, and there's a bright golden haze in the meadow.

It's February 12, for crying out loud!  And that means...

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training for the Orioles!  And the rest of the squad is due in Florida this Thursday the 14th!

The first spring game will be on Saturday the 23rd against the Twins, who will also be the opponents here in Baltimore on April 5 for Opening Day.

Nine days without sports of any consequence is a long time to endure.  I know there are hockey games and basketball and others, but for me, there is only Orioles baseball, Alabama college football and the World Champion Baltimore Ravens.

Peggy fills me in on this Downton Abbey show, and she says they were playing cricket the other night.  Well, I have tried a dozen times to figure that game out, and can only deduce that the beauty of baseball is its simplicity.  You can read how cricket is played right here on the Wiki, but please let me know if you can make sense of it.  I can't, after many tries.

Ah, baseball, where we enjoy the mental battle between the seasoned pitcher out there on the mound, trying to get one by the hot young slugger just up from Ashtabula by using guile and cunning.  Sometimes, guile and cunning are quite enough, and sometimes, that doggone rookie smashes the ball 450 feet, along with the other team's dreams.  We love our Orioles, who last year shook off the 14-year doldrums and made it to the playoffs.  This year, we expect even more.

And it all starts today!

Monday, February 11, 2013

ET the Extra Reverential

I was always a fan of Ernest Tubb from the first time I heard him sing.  The late, great country star known as the Texas Troubadour was no Caruso, not even a Barry Manilow when it came to singing perfectly on key.  But ET, as he liked to be called, didn't become a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame for singing grand opera, but for singing at the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 until his death in 1984...and he sang from the heart.

But I'm not here today to write of my admiration for the man whom others called "The Daddy of 'Em All."  What's on my mind is that in 1967 I went to the E.J. Korvette store and bought a copy of the double record album "The Ernest Tubb Story."  I listened to those records over and over and looked at the pictures inside.  One of the pictures showed Ernest at his desk in his home office, sitting beneath a sign on the wall that read "Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal."  Then as now, no Bible scholar, I, but I was to learn that the verse comes from the book of Corinthians. 

It has always stayed with me, all these years.  Those words are inspirational to me, and helpful in sad times.  And these are sad times for our neighbors, and so for us, as close friends as we are with Sam and Nancy. 

Nancy's younger sister Jen passed away on Friday after battling cancer for several years.  She was only 43, married, with two teenaged children.

I can understand death at a certain age.  Not to specify a number of years or anything, but take my Dad's case.  He had a long and happy life, survived World War II, came back to work long and hard for the Gas and Electric Company, retired, and did all the things that he wanted to do before passing at 84.  It's hard to say he was cheated out of his time at bat, and I can only hope to live as long as he did.

But 43? With so much ahead of her and her family?  That was a tough one.  One could hardly get into the room at the funeral home for all the mourners.  Friends, relatives, classmates and soccer teammates of the kids and even some of their teachers turned out to buck up the widower and the kids.  Still, the sadness hung in the room as a pall.  The family is very close and they have hundreds of friends, so we can count of them for solace.

I don't know why it takes so many reminders to make us realize that we are guaranteed no tomorrows, and we need to enjoy every day that we are given.  There will be fun, there will be toil and trouble, and there will be sorrow. 

Ernest's little sign comes back to me on days like this. I don't mean to preach on you; you can believe as you will, but these words are comforting on days like this.

Please, go tell someone you love them! You'll never have a better chance than today.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sunday rerun: Lightin' Up McGraw

Giving up cigarettes is a tough thing to do.  As the old Bob Seger song said, "I used to smoke five packs of cigarettes a day.  It was the hardest thing to put them away..."

Well, I didn't smoke five packs a day, but I was good for a pack, more or less.  And I enjoyed it, to tell you the truth, even knowing that it was bad for me.  It was that knowledge that eventually wore me down.

Today's young smoker might be fascinated, or envious, to learn of a time in America when more or less everyone smoked, more or less everywhere.  Restaurants, offices, grocery stores, funeral parlors, buses: you name a place, and the chances are that one could light up with impunity at any time.  And demand "an ashtray, if it's not too much trouble..."

In the late 1980's, things started to change, and smoking was banned in more places every day.  Bars and restaurants were the last public places to change.  You might recall the plaintive cries of Baltimore's bar and restaurant owners, who all claimed long and loud that without the right to puff a Camel, their customers would not come in, and their business would be gone in a puff of smoke.

This, of course, did not happen, nor did the increase of sales tax on the smokes themselves stop the dedicated smokers from smoking in their own areas.  I leave it to you to decide if that tax increase was fair, but I think that it's fair that smoking be done either in the Great Outdoors or someone else's Great Indoors. You want to smoke, or commit acts of self-defenestration, or listen to vile radio programs, go for it, but please don't force it on me.

Take a puff - it's springtime!
So all this comes to mind upon reading that President Barack Obama has been nine months without a smoke break, and I salute him for that.  In my case, after three months, the temptation to bum one and light it up was all gone, and there was nothing left to go but go around apologizing for my crabby behavior during those three months.

Those three long, long months.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Saturday picture show 2/9/13

 This little chart is even easier to figure out than the IKEA directions for assembling your new ÖDMJUK book shelf or toaster rack.  Answer the question at the top and you can go from there.  As I once heard someone say, "If you're not happy now, when did you plan to start?"
My fair and frantic Baltimore has received an ocean's worth of good publicity in the past seven days. In case you didn't hear the result of the Super Bowl, well, the Ravens won, it was Ray Lewis's final game, and everyone's talking about BMore.  I love that.  It's been a wonderful year for a certain guy whose blog you read. He's an Orioles fan, and they got to the playoffs after spending years in painful obscurity.  I am also an Alabama football fan, and all they did was win the BCS playoff to take the national crown, and then the Ravens won it all on the pro level. All of these things named above are food, drink and spice that are second nature to us here.  When we say cookie, we mean Berger's; when we say chicken box, we want a cardboard container with a breast, wing, thigh and leg, fries, roll and hot sauce.  We love it here.  Come see why! (Thank you, Blair Shipley, for finding this!)
 Found this online and it must be European, as clever and functional as it is.  Bike racks that look like bikes.  Who'da thunk it? 
There sure are a lot of people down with the flu or stomach virus or cold these days.  I feel bad for not sending my cold an anniversary card on January 27 when it had been my sneezin' coughin' companion for a month.  I do notice that when women take ill, they still manage to go to work, chauffeur the kids and dogs around, fix dinner, and, in general, carry the ball as if they didn't have a fever of 101° and an overall brackish feeling, replete with pains, aches and chills.  We menfolk are rendered incapacitated by the slightest illness, and head for the bed or recliner 'til Tuesday at the first sniffle.  Medical science was working on this interesting gender-based paradox, but the study is on hold for right now: too many of the male researchers called out.

Friday, February 8, 2013

6 Days a Week

The US Postal Service has been talking about this for quite a while now, and this week, they made it official:  no more first class mail delivery on Saturdays as of August 1 of this year.

They say that the majority of people polled in a recent survey said they didn't mind not getting letters on Saturdays.  They didn't ask me.  I would have said that I preferred to keep the same Mon-Sat schedule that we've had since 1863, but then again, they figured that if they had to keep coming to your house and mine on Saturday, they would have to start charging $1.08 per letter to offset the gap in their profit sheets.

Of course, they could also start charging $1.08 for every piece of junk mail that corporations mail out. Every day, I shred all sorts of paper from dubious charities, fly-by-night home remodelers, cheesy carpet steamers, factitious credit card schemes, double-dealing used car salespersons, uxorious  money lenders, hitch-filled sandwich and chicken coupons that make you buy two large drinks in order to get something "free," insincere requests to put my old clothes in an enclosed plastic bag to be left on the porch awaiting a truck that never comes (I still wear my old clothes anyway) and, every couple of years, sham campaign literature containing spurious allegations and purely ornamental promises.

Back in the day, mail was delivered twice a day, six days, and that's why Ben Franklin called his magazine the Saturday Evening Post - it was something to look forward to enjoying while relaxing after a long week. 

Soon, no Saturday post at all, morning or evening.  But look at the bright side:  draft notices, school expulsion letters and speed camera tickets won't show up on Saturdays anymore...three more reasons to have a good weekend!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

You bettor, you bet

You don't go driving your car without insurance, you don't get on a plane without getting that little travel insurance policy, and it's an effective method of hedging your bets in blackjack, insurance is.

Insurance is just a form of gambling, anyway.  Sure, you could drive the Family Truckster all around town and hope you don't back into some Smart Car at the mall parking lot because you wanted that sweet parking spot down by Fuddrucker's.  And for sure, you'd want to keep your fingers crossed that you won't hit a) a patch of ice and b) a tree one cold snowy night.  But if you do, you're glad you have insurance!

Life insurance?  You don't need that! Unless you have a family or dependents. If you're a single lighthouse keeper cut off from the world, just leave an envelope with a little cash in it for when you cross over to the other side just beyond your searchlight so that the new guy can arrange to get you a nice one-man bungalow with silver handles.  Mutual of Omaha need not get a nickel of your lighthouse salary.

But...let's say you own a furniture store in Baltimore, MD, home of the current Super Bowl Champion Ravens.  Let's say, for a promotional gimmick, you tell people that they can have every stick of furniture they're buying between Thursday and 3 PM Sunday of Super Bowl week as long as the home team runs back the opening kickoff of whichever half they get to receive one.

108 yards to open the second half!
And then let's say that Jacoby Jones of the Ravens runs that kickoff back in the second half of Sunday's game.  And you're Gary Mullaney, co-owner of Gardiner's Furniture over on Joppa Rd, right by the Dunkin' Donuts where Peggy and I wound up going for a cuppa mocha java the night we met.  And Gardiner's is where we got our living room furniture when we moved into the current crib.  Anyhow, you're Mr Mullaney, and you sold $600,000 worth of beds, lamps, sofas and I don't know what-all else in those three days and it all just became free because Jacoby Jones runs faster than the Plymouth Valiant I once drove around town. 

I worried that Mullaney was going to lose his shirt, but this article says he took out an insurance policy to the tune of $12,000.

Residents of Baynesville, where the store is, have reported hearing very loud sounds of someone saying "WHEW!" these past few days.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Heartbeat, it's a lovebeat

I'm telling you, this internet thing just might catch on!  It's a never-ending fountain of knowledge that I like to stand in up to my knees, wading in information and metaphors.

There's a site I love called Mental Floss; they have little features, mini-essays and the occasional quiz.  The other night, I stumbled upon an article there that shared the history of the stethoscope. That's the device with two earpieces and a long tube connecting them to a flat disc that your doctor keeps in the freezer until two seconds before it's placed upon your chest, allowing him or her to hear what's going on in the complicated plumbing of what medical science calls your "ticker."

The science of listening to the sounds of your body is known as  auscultation.  (The version practiced by sixth-grade boys is called "flatulation," although not all of the notes produced are flat.) Auscultation allows the trained ear to listen for muted sounds in part of the heart that are normally sonorous.  This might indicate a fluid buildup or tumor, both situations not to be taken lightly.

But until Dr. Rene Theophile Hyacinthe Laennec, over in France in 1816, came up with a great idea, the only way a doctor could hear what was going on in there was by putting an ear right there on the chest.  Dr Laennec (not to be confused with Dr Rumack, who did groundbreaking work much later in the field of airborne medical care) was a bachelor and a mighty shy one at that.  His patient was a zaftig lady, and he wasn't about to nestle his melon up against her... chest.  Thinking fast, he rolled up a piece of paper and placed one end on her chest and the other in his ear, which allowed him to keep his ear a respectable distance away from the mademoiselle's mammaries, and he proceeded to make his diagnosis.

His records reveal that he then called a local cardiologist for advice in the present case, a theory which comes under suspicion, owing to the fact that the telephone had yet to be invented.  Nevertheless, she was charged for the extra consultation, and while she had to do with a few less baguettes to pay off the bill, Dr. Laennec perfected his invention and named it the stethoscope ( from the Greek stethos, meaning chest, and scopos, meaning freezer.)

Today, Sears and WalMart offer a fine variety of chest freezers, and very few of us who keep our BirdsEye frozen broccoli spears in them realize the deep debt we owe to a bashful Frenchman from the year 1816.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

This is whey too crazy

I think that the people who sit in the bigwig offices at America's leading corporations sometimes sit around and think too much.

Witness this latest legal action, filed by Kraft Foods.  Kraft is the manufacturer of Cracker Barrel cheese.  This is the leading brand of big-chunk cheddar cheese; they make 20 styles of it in wedges and bars, and, God bless our laziness, they will even sell it to you in cracker-sized slices, saving us the arduous task of taking a knife and actually slicing our own cheese.

They've got their Roquefort in an uproar because the popular Cracker Barrel Country Store chain is planning to get into the grocery business, selling lunch meats, glazes, jerky and summer sausage.

(By the way, for all those so indignant about making English the official language of these United States, by cracky, you have to stop saying "jerky" now to describe your inedible dried-meat-that-tastes-like-leather.  The word "jerky" comes from the Spanish "charqui," meaning burned meat, so you are forbidden to say that anymore, capiche?)

So, the big cheese wheels  have decided that you and I are so dumb that we wouldn't know the difference between Cracker Barrel cheese and Cracker Barrel Sliced Liverwurst.

Cracker Barrel Cheese came into being in 1955; the restaurant chain started in 1969.  I have been an avid consumer of the former since I was just a little sharp cheddar, and have dined sumptuously at the latter since, I guess, the 1980s, when they opened shop around this way.

Maybe I'm unaware, but I have never confused the two entities.  Cheese at the grocery store and the highway-side restaurant with the great breakfasts and marvelous grits are two totally different things, clearly.  Have you ever thought they were one and the same?

Here's my idea:  have the lawyers from both sides meet up at a Cracker Barrel Old Country Store halfway between the two corporate offices.  As soon as everyone tucks into a nice Momma's Pancake breakfast (above) all this wrangling and feuding will seem like it was a long, long time ago!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Happy birthday Peggy!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my wonderful Peggy!  This picture will always remind us of the fun we had watching the Ravens win yesterday.  You are the Super Bowl Champion of wives every day, and I hope your birthday will be a wonderful day all day long.
We're going to Friendly Farm!!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sunday Rerun: 100 things

Not trying to be solipsistic (believing that I am the only living being around) here...but I found the prototype for this on a wonderful blog called Catheroominations   ( and I thought I'd fill it out for myself, keeping just a few of hers which fit me, and filling in the rest. I love filling out those online survey quizzes, and I recommend this exercise for getting in touch with the you only you know best! Thanks, Catheroo. If I were to add a #101, it would be to say that your blog is really great!

As Jackie Gleason used to say, "And aw-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaay we go!"

100 Things About Me

1. I like online jigsaw puzzles
2. I like tea in the morning and coffee every night after dinner
3. I don’t like noises from outside of the house, especially loud car stereos
4. I’m more likely to be hot than cold
5. I love football and baseball jerseys and my favorite is the Ravens purple, but I like the colors in the Browns home jersey (brown and orange)
6. I would love to write a book, but who would read it?
7. Bad spelling annoys me but bad grammar is worse
8. I hate liars
9. I like people-watching and find it endlessly fascinating
10. I like to drive, except in the city
11. I get crazy leg cramps while asleep
12. I believe in the spirit of Elvis
13. I wonder if newspaper advice columnists ever make up the letters they answer
14. I believe in fate and signs and certain personal superstitions
15. I never cry
16. I think the lyrics to a song are far more important than the music
17. I am loved by someone special
16. I could live the rest of my life without chocolate
17. I like to drink beer in a frozen mug
18. I used to drink Coke but have not had a soda of any sort since June 2005
19. I like to ride the exercise bike while watching sitcoms
20. I have a bizarrely good memory for dates and a terrible memory for names
21. I hate Brussels sprouts and lima beans
22. I hate bullies even though my size and quick tongue kept me from being their victim
23. I am a Cancer born on 6/30, but so is Mike Tyson: so what good is astrology?
24. I believe that an occasional flareup helps relieve built-up tensions at work
25. I have never voted for a Republican for any office at any time and never will
26. I have lost too many friends and loved ones to cancer (actually, one is too many)
27. I think the glass is half full - I am basically optimistic
28. I keep promising myself to never split infinitives
29. I can’t stand bad table manners
30. I used to love country music but it seems banal in its present state
31. I love to drive around in my truck with Peggy, looking at changing leaves in the fall, and Christmas lights
32. I believe I am relatively easy to please but I can see how others might not agree with that
33. I love music with saxophones, ukuleles and accordions
34. I used to go to grocery stores where no one knew me, speak with a quasi-European accent, and ask a clerk, “Please to tell, where are ze potato cheeps?”
35. I love being married
36. I can speak Spanish well enough to get by and sometimes think in Spanish to keep it sharp in my mind
37. I would love to learn ventriloquism
38. I love words and etymology
39. I want more time to read
40. I am a morning person
41. I began watching TV news fanatically when I was 5
42. I’m generally happy
43. If you are sick or injured, I will be glad to help take care of you
44. Wind chimes irritate me
45. I like reading newspapers and at one time was plowing through four per day
46. I wonder about California: they send their drunk-driving celebrities to jail and their murdering celebrities get off scot-free
47. I love to wear shorts outside in the winter
48. I once had a friend whose husband’s mother was the cook for a prison in Alabama, and I wanted to meet her to swap creamed chipped beef recipes
49. I miss the anticipation of getting pictures back from the photo developing shop - digital photography just might catch on!
50. I love popcorn but the smell of the fake butter makes me nauseated, so I have to search hither and yon for “natural” flavor nukecorn
51. I love old New Yorker and Life magazines for the slices of old-time life they provide
52. I love to cast actors to play my family, friends and co-workers in the forthcoming movie of my life - Drew Carey as me, Edward G. Robinson as my grandfather
53. I can drive a manual transmission vehicle
54. When I worked, I had the greatest assistant in the working world and our entire department would be much less great without her
55. I have forsworn many of my OCD traits but I will never yield on my stance on punctuality - I am fanatically early for everything
56. I like a beer with my dinner but I can live without it
57. When I was a kid, I would spend hours reading the Information Please Almanac and the World Book Encyclopedia- that‘s why I love surfing the net - so much information to be gleaned!
58. I love the oral histories written by Studs Terkel and love to hear people’s reminiscences on my own
59. I think that Norm MacDonald is one of the funniest human beings
60. Bad pronunciation bugs me
61. I have never eaten venison, nor rabbit, nor buffalo
62. I love it when pompous blowbags use malapropisms
63. I’m considered witty
64. Favorite snack: handful of mixed nuts
65. I have absolutely zero talent at acting, which puts me in some highly-paid company (Hi there, Jim Belushi!)
66. I was well into my 50’s before I realized that people would just as soon NOT have their grammar, spelling or pronunciation corrected.
67. I have never been arrested
68. My DVR is set to record three newscasts every single day
69. I sing along in the truck but I am a terrible singer
70. I don’t know whether Phil Spector killed that woman, but I sure know he made some of the greatest records ever
71. I am a Maryland native
72. I had almost no self-confidence growing up and then one day I said, hey what the hell, I’m good enough
73. I love listening to old-time radio shows such as Phil Harris, Jack Benny and the Great Gildersleeve
74. I laugh a lot and hope to make others laugh, the better to share the maxim “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine”
75. I believe in karma
76. There are times when nothing will do for dinner but McDonald’s
77. I get cranky when I’m tired or hungry
78. I was pleasantly surprised at how much more courteous Southern drivers were than Northerners when we went down South in ‘04
79. I am tremendously nostalgic about the 50’s and 60’s and have been known to visit my old public schools just to walk down the halls and bask in memories
80. I was a volunteer firefighter for 7 years and still claim kinship to the fire dept brother-and-sisterhood
81. I believe in love at first sight and my marriage is a testament to it
82. Like most Baltimoreans, I idolize Cal Ripken, Jr., and have always found him to be a kind and admirable person
83. I am an Orioles and Ravens fan but I don’t take it as a personal shortcoming if the teams don’t do so well
84. When Oprah was a local Baltimore newscaster, I grew so tired of her grammatical errors that I called channel 13 and asked them to counsel her against saying “Join Richard Sher and I this morning at 9...”
85. I wonder why anyone takes what they read in the gossip magazines to be any kind of true
86. I loved driving my pickup truck and couldn’t imagine not having one until a man rammed his into mine and now I have an SUV and Iove that even more
87. I love a band called LOVE from the late 60’s and no one else I know does!
88. At 6’ 5”, I have come to know the look of a woman in the grocery store who cannot quite reach the Vienna sausage, fig newtons or hoisin sauce on the back of the top shelf, and I’ll be glad to help
89. I bought a professional hair trimmer so Peggy can keep me buzz-cut in between visits to Gail at the Groomin’ Saloon
90. I like to use 50’s-hepcat words for money, like “semolian” for dollars, “sawbuck” for 10 dollars and “yard” for 100 bucks.
91. If I like a joke, you can count on hearing it again for 20 or 30 years
92. I don’t like going to the movies anymore because of the boorish way people behave - talking, phones ringing, etc
93. I love pop songs sung by Sammy Davis, Jr., Bing Crosby and Matt Monro
94. I was an A&P grocery clerk before I became a young DJ
95. I love my job but my dream job has always been to be the booth announcer on a game show (“Tell her what she’s won, Mark!” “Be glad to, Bob! First, a year’s supply of Turtle Wax, a case of Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco treat, and a new gas range from Tappan - Tappan: the leader in kitchen appliances since 1888”)
96. I have plenty of faults, but I do think I can cheer people up when they need it
97. I prefer to shave with a razor; it gives a much cleaner shave than an electric
98. I will never forget the night a friend called and asked what I was doing and I answered, “I’m organizing my spare light bulbs by size and wattage” and I don’t think she believed me
99. I talk back to the television but I never get an answer
100. My heart still skips a beat when I see my wife

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