Thursday, June 28, 2007

Stuck in the blades of the Windmills of My Mind...

I don't know if it's because I'm getting older and don't sleep as soundly as I once did, or if it's the result of spending too much time on the Internet, but these things KEEP ME AWAKE:

Women have no depth perception. They are incapable of parallel parking. All guys know this. Yet...they are superb packers. They can cram everything, (and I do mean everything), needed for a vacation into a couple of suitcases and never once during that vacation find themselves saying, "son of a bitch...I thought I packed that." We males, on the other hand, forget to pack almost ALL essential items.
"Honey, have you seen my razor?"
"Son of a..."
"I'll be back in a minute. Do you need anything from the drug store?"

Women are also good at arranging furniture and using a tiny pencil to draw lines around their eyeballs.

Another thing keeping me awake is...Tyson Foods.
It seems that Tyson has plans to team with a company called Syntroleum that will take fat from Tyson's meat processing plants and turn it into liquid fuel to power cars and jets.
Can't you see it? PORKY POWER! Now with extra snouts and More Oink per mile!

Do I smell Bar B Que?

More flab for the Super Slab! sports:

The Padres have a rookie third baseman named Chase Headley. This bothers me a great deal. Chase Headley is not...NOT a baseball name! Chase Headley is the name of a tennis pro at your country club or a guy who works for Wachovia and wants to talk to you about equities. It is no name for a third baseman. He needs to change it.

Chase Headley...You've got to be kidding!

Boof baffling batters
The Minnesota Twins, on the other hand, have a pitcher with one of the all time great baseball names: Boof Bonser.

Now, that is a baseball name! Boof Bonser is a Hall of Fame name that is the equal of both the Dean brothers, Dizzy and Daffy, and right up there with my favorite...Stubby Clapp.

And finally...
My nephew Ken e-mailed me a picture of a young couple that he found on the net. Ken lives in North Carolina; so they probably live nearby. I have been losing sleep trying to figure how to work this photo into a blog.
Problem solved.

Odds of meeting these two at New York's Waldorf Astoria: Zero

Odds of meeting the happy couple at a Mensa meeting: less than Zero

Odds of meeting them in North or South Carolina...100%

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

GET RICH!! It's the Paris Portfolio

Just like the burger she was seeking the night she got popped for a DUI, Paris Hilton is the "In & Out" queen of jail babes.
Yes, she's out of stir as of this morning. It must have been horrible...absolutely HORRIBLE. No servants, no sycophants, no dumbass boyfriends or controlled substances. NO BOOZE!

Well, all of that nonsense is over now. It's back to being a rich bitch moron who will no doubt be trolling all the important parties and flashing her goods for our collective voyeuristic consciousness until hell blows up. Is this a great country, or what?

The really good news is that this gives those of us with a capitalist bent an opportunity to score big in the investment department.

For example: Whatever you do, don't put any money into a Carl's Jr. franchise. I she was, the hot mama of their TV commercials, and what happens? She gets picked-up for drunk driving after leaving an In & Out burger emporium!!!! She's hungry and obviously way too drunk to remember that Carl's Jr. is paying her an heiress-load of dough to promote their cow patties! Wow! Either she is too dumb to be ANYBODY'S pitch woman, or Carl's Jr. burgers are so bad that even the employees wont eat there. Either way... stay away.

I would be buying some Time Warner stock. They own the Internet gossip site TMZ and they also own CNN where Larry King will have the first exclusive interview with Ms. Hilton since her release from "stony lonesome".

News Corp is a "buy". They own the rights to Paris's incredibly stupid "Simple Life" TV show. It makes an embarrassing amount of money and there seems to be no end to the number of idiots in our midst who are willing to watch it. Buy News Corp.

Buy Hilton Hotel stock. This one comes under the heading of ANY publicity is GOOD publicity

Is Mensa a stock? I didn't think so...
If it were, I'd definitely be shorting it.

She's Back!!!!
...and once again, America is safe for PLUTOCRACY!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Did Someone Say "BLUE BUNNY"?


"And we're having Blue Bunny", my sister-in-law exclaimed.
Now, Bre, my brother's wife, is young enough to belong to a different generation than Linda's and mine. So, for a minute or two I attempted to fire an alcohol charred synapse or seven but nothing was happening.
B L U E B U N N Y...something from Hefner? No, no, let me think...Blue...Bun...Oh, wait!! Ice cream! That's it! Ice cream from my yesteryears it was. Wells Blue Bunny ice cream from LaMars, Iowa! Yes, I remember it now. It was that frozen slice of heaven that I once handled as I sacked snacks and sustenance for the snores who patronized Swanson' Superstore on the Miracle Mile in Spencer, Iowa once upon a misspent youth. If I recall correctly, it was just about the ONLY ice cream available in Northwest Iowa in those days.

Well, here's the deal. Apparently Blue Bunny ice cream has become something of a dairy icon of late. I'm not sure if it is because of a scarcity factor or some rural/urban legend, but it seems to have achieved the kind of status once reserved for Coors beer in the 60's and 70's. If you recall, in those days, it was difficult to find Coors anywhere east of the Rocky Mountains and until Coors embraced national distribution it was considered a "mystical golden elixir" by brew hounds of every stripe. Now, of course, it is recognized for the bunny piss it always was.

Where was I? Oh yes... Blue Bunny ice cream. It really IS delicious! At least I thought it was as I enjoyed it for the first time in years when Bre served it to me.
I have checked out their website and note that they have added lots of other tasty treats to the basic ice cream line-up. And, it appears that they have a dandy ice cream parlor you can visit in LaMars if you happen to be in the area. I am already making plans to call "The Skipper" to suggest a rally at the Blue Bunny plant where we can happily eat our way into an ice cream coma. It would be an inspired follow-up to last year's tour and pig out at the Spam museum in Austin, Minnesota.

"Hey kids, it's chock full of fatty goodness!"

I think I'll try the chocolate. It sure looked good on my nephew Walt.

Walt slipping into ice cream coma...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Laugh your ass off...If you dare

Pharmacies are reporting monster sales of Alli (pronounced Ally), which is a nonprescription weight loss product of GlaxoSmithKline. Alli's active ingredient is oristat, a fat blocker. Used correctly it will block one-third of the fat you ingest. For example, a half-cup serving of Haagen-Daz ice cream has about 19 grams of fat. Alli, taken with meals, would prevent the body from absorbing about half of that.

Here's the DOWNSIDE:
(You can find this on their website, The fat that is blocked can come out of your body in...ahh....ummm, shall we say, embarrassing ways. Alli can cause gas with oily discharge as well as frequent or loose stools. The website goes on to say: "It is probably a smart idea to wear dark pants and bring a change of clothes to work if you use Alli." HOLY CRAP!!!
To avoid the side effects, (get this), Glaxo suggests limiting fat intake to 15 grams a meal. Maybe I'm missing something here, but wouldn't you be inclined to lose weight if you limited your fat intake to 15 grams a meal without taking Alli??

It seems to me that this whole mentality of expecting a pill to help decidedly fat Americans slim down is more than a little...What's the word?...Oh yeah, NUTS!

How about just watching what goes in your pie-hole?
Or, if you just can't help it, there are a lot worse nicknames than FATS. In fact, some of our greatest Americans have been called Fats.

Jackie Gleason as Minnesota Fats

The movie "The Hustler" just wouldn't have been the same if Gleason had been called Minnesota Pantload.

I'm saving that moniker for this guy.

"Minnesota Pantload"

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tell this Old Bag to HIT THE BRICKS!

81 years of this??!!

Enough already!
All this stuff lately about the tenth anniversary of the death of Princess Di has forced my hand.

I have been watching and waiting my whole life for the British to wise up and fire every last member of the royal family.

Jesus H. Tap Dancing Christ!! How stupid can these people be? What does it cost them per year? About eleventy jillion dollars? All just to keep these trained apes living in style? Think of the savings, not to mention the improvement in national image, if they merely cashiered this stable of horse-faced women in hats and invested in a decent flag to represent their country.

I'll admit that I was willing to cut them some slack when it looked like Diana might wind up being the queen of the hop in the near future. A hot chick as your national symbol would have done wonders for the morale of a country long past its "use by" date. My figures show that, with her as the queen, military enlistment alone would have been up over 4000 per cent. But, now...with the remaining bunch of jug-eared, inbred, NASCAR crew looking mental lightweights left in the line-up...FORGET IT. A good flag is the way to go. It's a money saver and the right thing to do.

These guys??!!!


They look like they're on the way to the London tryouts for "A Chorus Line".

Friday, June 15, 2007

Dad's Day...Steve's Turn

Steve and the youngest Mr. Copper...Walt

My younger brother, Steve, is a fine writer. He used to write a regular newspaper column, but in recent years has been too busy as an editor to continue grinding out his insightful and often very funny observations. I wish that weren't the case.
Long ago I had decided to run his June 26, 1990 piece about our dad as a Father's Day tribute. It is one that I have saved and re-read many times over the last several years. Little did I know that he would come out of retirement to pen his thoughts on becoming a father himself. Though I'm sure he'll think I'm a dope for doing it, I am reprinting both of them here.
Hey, it's what big brothers are for. Let the torment begin...


(Tuesday, June 26, 1990)
"There's a deranged duck in the pond," my dad informs me matter-of-factly.
It's Sunday afternoon. Father's Day. We are standing one story above the ground on the narrow deck of my parents' condo squinting out into the glary light. It is hot and breezy, the sky is a dizzying whirl of blue and cirrus clouds.
My dad, who is retired and has time on his hands, keeps a close watch on the ducks these days as they come and go in the small lake out beyond the manicured lawn behind the condo complex. He counts the ducklings ("Snapping turtles got most of them this year.") and enjoys what, to his admittedly inexpert eye, seems to be the vagaries of duck social life.
If there's a weird duck out there, I'm sure my dad knows about it. When he points out the wayward fowl in question--a lone duck, a diver, he says--I observe him for a while too. He (or is it a she?) swims erratically around the lake avoiding the other ducks. My dad thinks maybe it has lost its mate and is grief-stricken. Through binoculars, the duck looks to me to be young and scrawny and glassy-eyed, maybe a little disheveled ( a tuft of feathers is askew on its head). Dangerous, I think. A loner, a rebel. The John Hinckley or Travis Bickle of the duck world.
Hinckley Duck goes away eventually, paddling with a sudden purpose (off to buy a handgun?) toward a distant corner of the lake and out of sight. Our thoughts and conversation drift to other things.
I have been thinking a lot about the old man lately, and about the inexorability of genes.
There was a rebellious time when I thought I had little in common with my dad, and I don't think he knew quite what to make of me. If there's one thing he can't stand in the world, it's a smart-aleck. "Stay away from that guy. He's a smart-aleck," was a warning I heard repeatedly as a kid.
Dad is your basic solid-citizen ---a patient, portly Ward Cleaver type interested in insurance, real estate, the crops, golf, washing the car, moderation and fairness. He is cursed, however, with two kids who are Eddie Haskells. Classic smart-alecks. My brother is a big city DJ, I'm a small town newspaper drone---jobs for un-solid citizens---two businesses fraught with cynics, burnouts, booze-hounds and other unsavory characters.
At one point, I think my dad dreamed that I could be a golf pro. He bought me golf clubs and got me started playing when I was little. I was pretty good and he kept encouraging me. Of course I gave it up in high school.
I was a brooding, solitary, wiseacre kid and I've become a brooding, semi-solitary, wiseacre adult. Lately though, in the mornings before I have had time to activate my arsenal of self-delusions, I am often startled by the slightly puffy countenance returning my myopic gaze in the mirror. "Dad," I think. Time and circumstance (and booze) work their magic on a face, but genes will out. I notice, too, I am taking new pleasure in things like washing the car and mowing the yard. Perhaps moderation and a resumption of my golf career are next.
Dad has gotten jolly in retirement, though, to be honest, the last few years have not been especially kind to him. A man who, as I recall, was never sick a day in his life had barely said goodbye to the everyday work grind when he was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, then diabetes. He developed an ulcer, needed back surgery, spent the better part of a winter in the hospital or flat on his back at home.
My family is small but not what I imagine most people would consider particularly close-knit. Much is left unsaid between us. We share, rightly or wrongly, a distrust of anybody who talks too openly about his feelings, and a sense that life's important stuff, its essential truths, are ineffable. Maybe it's the Midwestern reticence, but I never heard my dad complain through any of his troubles. (He will be embarrassed, of course, that I'm committing any of this to paper.)
I think he's having a good year this year, I'm happy to say. He's able to golf again. His White Sox are winning (he's a life-long fan; naturally, to be contrary, I became a Cubs fan). Most of all, he seems comfortable with himself---untortured by regret---which, I imagine, must be the best part of growing old.
He's done OK.
When it's time to leave, my dad walks out to the parking lot to see me off. Night has begun to crouch down around the lake and the white brick condos. My folks decided to move to this place when the house got to be too much for them to care for, and I sense they are just now starting to feel at home here. It still seems foreign to me. We stand by the car for a moment as the insects whir incessantly from the shimmering trees. He notes with some pride that I am keeping my car clean.
"Happy Father's Day. And thanks," I say for a final time and we shake hands this Sunday. Father' Day.
"Another day long gone," he says to me cheerfully. And in my head on the quiet drive home my father's voice echoes back to me as my own.

(Steve Copper is a wire editor for the Journal Courier. He also writes about the movies. As far as we know, the deranged duck remains at large.)


(Sunday June 17, 2007)

I've been thinking this week. (news in its own right)
about fathers and sons.
My dad was born 89 years ago today, June 17, 1918. He died in the wee hours on a Tuesday morning in May twelve years ago, disappearing around the last corner of this life after a long labyrinthine fade into the fog of Alzheimer's.
I think of my dad as a pretty basic guy, typical of his generation: hard-working, solid citizen, straight-arrow (never cursed, that I heard anyway, unless you count "Beans!" or "Son of a Buck!"), lived through the Depression, helped save our bacon in World War II (but never talked about it), came back from the war and simply got on with it, starting a family and carving out a life.
One of those guys.
Yet, he was always a mystery to me, and I admit I was vaguely scared of him, though I can't for the life of me tell you why. Maybe because it was always left to him to dole out punishment on those occasions (pretty rare) when the need arose. "Wait till your father gets home." my mom would threaten, though the repercussions for my brother and me were never extreme.
Or maybe I was always afraid I would disappoint him
I think of him more often today than I did when he was alive, perhaps because not so long ago I became a father myself for the first time at an advanced (some would say embarrassingly advanced) age.
I'm 51 and have an 18-month old son, Walt- a gift in my life received after I'd pretty much given up on the whole notion.
Dad is a frequent visitor to my dreams now, and it's always good to see him. It's not the dad of old-age who appears but the the one from my boyhood - the one who played catch or shot baskets with me, the one who taught me how to mow the lawn and drive a car and , well how to be a man of the world, whatever that means and however poorly I absorbed it.
After my dad died, I found myself drawn back to the places we had lived as I grew up, particularly to Spencer, the small town in northwest Iowas where we stayed the longest and where my memories of him seemed most vivid.
He worked as a land appraiser in the farm mortgage department for Prudential Insurance then, and spent a lot of time driving the back roads looking at farms or talking to small town bankers. I drove those roads for a few days, too, watching the corn and beans sway on the undulating landscape and trying to imagine what he must have thought about.
I walked and bicycled past our old house so often that I feared whoever lived there now would suspect me of casing the joint and summon the cops.
Time tilted sideways. His ghost was everywhere, and mine was too.
Of course I went through a stage (way too long) where I thought my dad was clueless, hopelessly hide - bound.
Square. We weren't interested in the same things. He just didn't get it. Didn't get me.
Maybe I get it now.
Though we became fathers at different stages in our lives and in different eras, I find that I compare myself to him now at almost every turn about how I'm doing at being a dad and paying the bills and setting and example and living a decent life - and hoping I'm not screwing it all up.
I'm in his shadow.
My son's at a stage where he's easily impressed. He thinks I'm a giant of a guy who can do miraculous things (Look at daddy read a book! Get the mail! Drink coffee! Start the lawnmower! Carry me upstairs!)
I know I'll be a doddering old coot soon enough.
I look into Walt's eyes and wonder how I will haunt him.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Dumb Dads Count Too!

Father's Day is Sunday.
It's another one of those Hallmark holidays that guilt trip people into recognizing friends or relatives that probably don't deserve it. Some do...but lots don't.
My dad and mom earned every bit of thanks and acknowledgement my brother and I could ever give them. Our antics wrinkled their brows and turned their hair white way before nature dictated.
I, on the other hand, had it easy.
For merely conning their mother out of a good night's sleep, I have been issued two wonderful daughters who have caused me very little grief. In fact, I recall NO major meltdowns or "how could you do this to me?" incidents during my watch. Probably their mother took care of the tough stuff. All I know is that I enjoyed a carefree run as "Dumb old Dad" for longer than I had any right to expect.
Both girls have done well as adults too. Kelly, the oldest, is a playwright and director who has her own internationally recognized theater company in New York. The youngest, Katie, is a prosecutor in the San Diego DA's office who specializes in sending bad dads to jail.
They make me proud to be their Old Man every day. Also, they accomplished the impossible by marrying guys I genuinely like and admire.
EVERY day is Father's Day to me.

Okay...there is one thing that I would like for them to work on.

I have got my Grandpa chops just about perfected. You know...pulling money out of various body parts; making noses disappear, arm farts...the whole routine.

Girls...get to work, before I lose my edge.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Have Attitude, Will Travel

St. Louis/
It's 7:00 PM. I'm cranky and surrounded by morons. My wife and I are aboard a shuttle van departing the St. Louis airport. There are six of us: the driver and five passengers.

The driver, about my age, asks if anybody has a problem with him turning on the radio. He professes to need traffic information as we negotiate the final grind of a Tuesday commute. I can tell his actual agenda is something else. Hearing no objections, he snaps on the van's radio. On comes KLOU...the St. Louis oldies outlet.

Haven't I been punished enough?! Not only did I just finish an interminable plane ride, I did hump these "yester-hits" for at least ten years on KCBQ and KBZT in San Diego. (I also plead guilty to having made them hits in the first place back in the 60's and 70's.) I'm not certain that I can endure hearing "Do Wah Diddy" or "The Hustle" one more time without succumbing to dreaded OLDIES POISONING.

Sure enough, each heavy hit rolling out of the van speakers is the equivalent of a size ten steel-toed work boot to my groin. OUCH! The only thing worse than being subjected to this fossilized pop pap is having to listen to the twenty-something no talent jock who incessantly mentions what a Great Time he's having. " I'm glad you're here with me tonight...We're havin' a great time!" I keep remembering that thirty years ago a station in a market the size of St. Louis would have had a person with real talent making good money hosting the show and he or she would have been doing something that really WAS fun.

In today's corporate radio milieu the business plan is to hire somebody for little money and send them lots of memos about making it sound like "fun on the radio".
Pay peanuts...get monkeys. Sad.
The only monkey who was entertaining was J. Fred Muggs who roller skated on the Today Show in the 1950's, and he's dead. Come to think of it, a roller skating monkey (preferably not dead) would be more compelling radio than most of the crap on the air today.

It didn't matter anyway. By the time we cleared the St. Louis city limits, I was the only one paying any attention to the radio. Every other passenger, and the driver, was on their cell phone.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

This should send Steve Lawrence screaming into the night!

John? Eydie?

The Doublemint Twins?

I couldn't help but notice the recent publicity shots from the new "Hairspray" movie starring John Travolta as Edna Turnblad.

My eyes aren't what they used to be, but I'm having a hard time distinguishing the difference between the cross dressing Mr. Travolta and Eydie Gorme' circa 1965.

This should only further confuse an aging Steve Lawrence, especially when he's singing "Portrait of My Love".

Who knew?

Friday, June 1, 2007

Al is back...It MUST be Summer

Al catching some rays and some bugs

There he was...right on schedule.
The alligator lizard who lives in my backyard, (I call him Al because he looks like an Al), made his appearance yesterday just like he does every year. It's always late May or early June when the patio achieves that just right temperature that the old veteran reptile shows up by the back door.
He's a little heavier this year. Must have really pigged out prior to that hibernation thing. Well, what's a guy gonna do when the bugs are plentiful and juicy?
We exchange pleasantries. His wife and kids are doing fine, as are mine. He's a little miffed about all this global warming nonsense and wonders just what the hell the big deal is. Frankly, he tells me, he has always been a little chilly.
Al wonders where my woodpile went. He spent some wonderful afternoons in its shade while he scoped out the latest crop of San Elijo bugs. I remind him that the winter was cool enough to require a few fires in the fireplace this year and that, sadly, the wood is no more. He is fine with that, but cautions me to order a cord before summer is over so that I can get a good price. (I wonder if Al was a wallet in a previous life?)
Anyway...It's good to have the old boy back. I know that I can count on him spending time with me most every afternoon from now until late October. We'll enjoy the fact that neither one of us has ever had to put up with a real job, although I would quarrel with him regarding my time in the Army, and we'll bitch about the Padres lack of a "heavy bat" who can drive in some runs. Other than that, we're pretty much into carrying on with our pursuit of perpetual adolescence.

Al is a perfect low maintenance pet. I've had dogs and have endured cats for my daughters, but Al is my favorite. When the day is done and his belly is full of bugs...he goes home. He doesn't come inside. He also doesn't poop on my lawn...
At least he says he doesn't.