Friday, December 31, 2010

Old Friends and New Stories

The phone was ringing in Florida.
I was hoping to hear a familiar voice, but was worried that maybe this was going to end badly.
Linda had been after me to call old pal John since we got our Christmas card to him returned "address unknown".  That's never a good sign when the recipient is in his late 70's.

John Lotz and I have been buds since our days together in Tampa radio.  He was the general manager of a new FM station when I was toiling in morning drive on the station across the hall.  He is fifteen years older than I, but we were like brothers almost from the start.  We played golf together, had many laughs over cocktails in broadcast dive bars; our wives and kids even liked each other.  Though we both went on to several other jobs that kept us thousands of miles apart, we always stayed in touch.  That's why I was worried when the Christmas card came back.

Then...he picked up the phone.  "K.C.!  How the hell are ya?"
Great!  He was alive.  He'd had a stroke this past year and had made an amazing recovery, but had not managed to get his usual amusing Christmas card in the mail.  The reason our card had been returned was because his daughters had insisted on him relocating to an assisted living facility so that he might have some help with his medication and other aspects of his recovery.  He and his late wife, Barbara, were blessed with a couple of remarkable girls who, in spite of busy lives and families of their own, look out for their dad.

I hear not a trace of stroke in his voice and John tells me that he has no problems with motion or anything other than keeping track of all the medicine he is required to take.  "The nurses are in charge of the pills.  I handle the swallowing."
God, it's so good to hear his voice.  The world spins in greased grooves once again.

We talk for a long time.  Somewhere toward the end of our conversation John asks me if I remember Danny Hamm.  truthfully I tell him that I recall only hearing about this guy.  "Wasn't he a drinking buddy when you were running KWK in St. Louis?"

"Yep, that's the guy."
He continues to tell me that Danny Hamm married his secretary, Debbie, back in the late 60's after John had introduced them.  John was also the best man at their wedding.   Now, another friend has sent him  a newspaper piece about the child these two, now departed, introduced to the world and named after their buddy John.  Barbara and John were also chosen as the boy's godparents.

"He looks a lot like his old man, but he changed the spelling of his name to JON. Show biz!  There's also a lot of the classiness in his appearance that his mom projected," John explained.

Jon Hamm
Though he has yet to see the hit TV series Mad Men he now knows that the godson he once held in his arms is one of the biggest new stars in Hollywood, Jon Hamm.

"The show is on too late for me, but I hear it's pretty good". allows John.
I am now making it my goal in 2011 to get him up to speed on TIVO or some other video recorder.

A terrific end to another year!  An old friend is still on the right side of the sod and, as usual, has a wonderful story to tell.
That's the very best thing about old friends...the stories.  I love the stories.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Best Present of 2010

Seeing Christmas through his eyes.

Do I hear Santa in the other room?

Friday, December 17, 2010

It's That NO PRESSURE Time of The Year

We're running a little late this year, but it's finally done.  Today we mailed off the last of the Christmas cards.  According to "Russ the Mailman" we are members of a dwindling tribe of hopeless Luddites who still do this "stamp and envelope" thing at Christmas.  The postal department statistics show that what was once a yuletide project for most families is in precipitous decline.  About half of us send out Christmas cards anymore.  We'd rather email or post our good wishes on Facebook.  Too dangerous for me!  You never know when some unfortunate remark about your Aunt Shirley's ass might make it into someones blog or be accidentally included in a mass emailing.  (I have no fear of retribution here as this post has a very exclusive audience.  We screen like the TSA.)

So, with the Christmas cards on their way to old Army buddies, long lost high school degenerates, and assorted toothless goober distant cousins, I am now free to enjoy the holidays.
This will be grandson Dan's first real Christmas.  He was too little to pick-up on the whole toys and goodies grab last year, but having turned one I now think he is ready for a drum set or a BB gun.  Don't you?  Better check with grandma.

I'm especially grateful these days to be free of any work related obligations.  All those years in the radio business provided me with a lifetime of Christmas promotion nightmares cooked up by unscrupulous time sales slime merchants.  (There is no lower form of human life than broadcast time sales personnel.  They put Times Square hookers in the shade.)  I recall one Christmas season, either in Tampa or San Diego, where an "account executive" (talk about euphemism!) roped me into dressing up in a Santa suit after finishing my morning show and visiting the lion's share of his current client list.  If memory serves, there were bottles of whiskey to distribute and other goodies to pass out and....I really don't remember much about the rest of the day.  Come to think of it, I believe I had a pretty fine time.  Never mind.

Then there were all the office parties.  Does anybody have those anymore?  Those were always good for a bushel basket full of embarrassment for the entire office.

"The stockings were hung by the chimney with care...the rest of the clothes were tossed anywhere."

So, now it's time to get busy relaxing while we all wait for old St. Nick.

Wait a minute.  I haven't done ANY shopping !  Damn!  I knew I'd forgotten something.  Where did I put the car keys?  Better yet...where did I leave the car??
What do the kids want this year?  Yikes!! What am I going to get my wife??!!
Well, it's off to the mall.  How many days do I have left?  I'm in trouble now.  

I know.  I'll get Santa to help me.  That's the ticket, just get the Fat Boy what he wants for Christmas and let him take care of the rest.  Whew!  Who knew it would be that easy?  One lap dance at Jumbo's Clown  Room coming up Santa!  It sure beats fat camp.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Maybe I Can Use Your Bucket?

The problem with "bucket lists" is this:  once you start actually doing some of the things you've decided you must do before  allowing the worms to have at your carcass it is necessary to consider something else.  What's the plan if you REALLY like a particular adventure?  Can you do it again?  There appear to be no rules regarding blowing your dough on goofy adventures; so here is my take:  IF IT'S THE LAST THING I DO, EVEN IF I HAVE TO BORROW YOUR BUCKET, I AM GOING BACK TO AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND.

Linda and I cruised the Panama Canal earlier this year and are both content to scratch that one off the list.  The canal is amazing in many respects, but ONCE as they say, is enough.  I can die happy knowing that it is an engineering miracle and that it wouldn't have happened without the U.S. and, by the way, we gave it away a few years ago and it now seems to be pretty much an outpost for the Chinese communists.
Port Chalmers, NZ

Australia and New Zealand are another story.  WOW!  Now these are a couple of magnificent countries!  Both are loaded with remarkably warm and witty people and have scenery and natural resources beyond compare.  You know a place is pretty spectacular when you find yourself perpetually wishing you were again thirty years-old  and could reinvent yourself in this brand new land of opportunity.

It is a long flight to Sydney, Australia where we boarded Holland America's ship Volendam.   Once you've endured that torturous plane ride the worst is over.  Let the party begin!  Aussies and Kiwis are the original party people.  Perhaps it is their prison heritage that has taught the Aussies  to "dance in the rain" instead of merely waiting for the storm to pass.  Whatever, they're going to have a good time and you are encouraged to "come along".

As soon as we boarded the ship, which was destined to hit Australia's Melbourne and Tasmanian ports before heading for New Zealand,  we bumped into the couple in the next cabin.

"Real name is Ernest, but in Australia they just call me Ern'....don't know why, it's just their way."  Ern is a 90 year-old from Adelaide who is traveling with his "baby" sister Marion, who is 86.  Neither of them appear to be much past 75 and are neither slow of thought or lacking a sense of humor.  They've both outlived spouses and thought it a dandy idea to take a cruise around the neighborhood of the South Pacific they've called home since the early 1950's.  Both are originally from England.  Ern, an engineer by vocation, emigrated in 1954 and was very much involved in the evolution of the electric power grid in Australia.  Marion, having read his letters to their parents thought it foolish to stay in cold and dank London when places like Ern was describing were warm and loaded with lots of young blokes who spoke English.  She came and stayed down under. 
"Ern" at the rail.  At 90 he goes to sea one more time.
Marion has outlived a husband and a boyfriend;  one "ex"husband, to her chagrin, remains alive and a "real bastard".  Ern had a long marriage and several children.  His oldest daughter gave the okay for him to construct his own "grandpa cottage" on the property behind her house where he enjoys ready access to his grandchildren and great grandchildren.

This year, after taking a fire extinguisher to the ninety candles on his cake, Ern pined for one last trip to sea.  He was a British naval officer during the second world war and had come to love the sea even in those less than desirable conditions on the Mediterranean and the North Atlantic.  It was time to set sail once more and cast eyes on the beauty of his chosen homeland while standing on sea legs.
Like anyone who has adopted a homeland, Ern was a font of information on both Australia and New Zealand.  We were lucky to have ready access to him and Marion when it came to all the questions filling our heads as we sailed from port to port.  Their knowledge regarding natural resources, history, and all the critters who could do you harm was astounding.  For some reason, Australia has at least seven kinds of spiders and snakes that can kill you in very painful ways---and, they're plentiful.  I plan to spend the rest of my life avoiding tiger snakes and funnel web spiders...the worst of the lot.  New Zealand, by contrast, has an abundant bird population, sheep, cattle, a few too many possums, and one lousy poisonous  spider.  NO SNAKES.  A real plus in my book.

The cruise lasted fourteen days that seemed to be four, but that's the way you want it to be.  Who wants to be on a vacation that reminds you of the old days when dad and mom would pile everybody into the station wagon for a two week trip to hell called "Let's visit Aunt Shirley".

It was a long way home to San Diego, but both Australia and New Zealand are on both of our "do it again" lists and, in addition to a bad airplane cold, we picked up a couple of fantastic "old" new friends.  Ern and Marion are, like most every member of the Greatest Generation, a couple of people who have learned to make the best of every moment they have.  A lesson for us all.

"Whether it's the best of times or the worst of times, it's the only time we have."
Art Buchwald

Sydney Opera House

Friday, November 26, 2010

Dad At 35,000'

(The following was written a couple of weeks ago in the middle of a first time flight to Australia and New Zealand.)  

He sneaks up on me when I least expect him.  Certainly as I attempt sleep at umpity ump thousand feet somewhere over the South Pacific it is a surprise to be talking with my dad.  People never tell you about stuff like this.  At least nobody ever mentioned it to me.  Or, maybe they did and I just wasn't listening.

Dad ankled the planet nearly sixteen years ago but strangely has had more to say to me in the past few years than he ever did while still blowing smoke rings from is favorite green easy chair.  Or, maybe he did and I just wasn't listening.

No mater.
What strikes me in the wee smalls of a fourteen hour flight to Sydney is the enormity of what was asked of so many Americans of dad's generation not so long ago.  The scope of the challenge handed to those young guys at the threshold of their adult lives is hard to grasp.  Even more impressive is the fact that they delivered.  How did it feel to be a young man from the cornbelt who, like most of his peers, had never been far from home, on board a ship bobbing on an ocean you'd never seen?  
What sacrifice!  There were no guarantees of victory; no assurance of going home in one piece.  Yet, they did it because the alternative to victory was unthinkable.  A triumphant Imperial Japan and, or Nazi Germany was simply unacceptable.
They anted up irreplaceable hunks of their young lives.  Some gave all in places they couldn't find on a map.

It isn't lost on me that their grit and determination allows me to now muse at 35,000 feet as I wend my way to a part of the globe I will visit under very different circumstances from dad and his buddies.

In this season of thanks and redemption I remember as a grateful son and hope that it's enough.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Add One More To The Royal Payroll!

It has been fun to be in Australia for all the excitement surrounding Prince William's engagement to Kate Middleton.  The Aussies , you see, like most of the rest of the free world and assorted commie countries couldn't give a rat's ass.  At least that's the vibe I pick-up from the local papers, (yes they still have them and they are BIG), and chats with the completely affable folks from the land down under.  
Apparently the fact that Kate is a distant relative of one of the original Brit jailbirds quartered in these parts is, at best, a triviality.  Australians look at it as just one more addition to the already bloated royal payroll of horse-faced dimwitted inbreds that the U.K. continues to prefer over a really kickass flag.  Just think of the dough England would save by going with the flag or very cool mascot.  Putting the royal numskulls in the unemployment line could free up millions of euros and perhaps allow Britain to balance its budget or, better yet, throw an exceedingly bitchin' party.

Where is Winston Churchill when you need him??!!  I'm sure old Winny would be on-board with this.   More money for cigars and brandy!

Of course I realize that Americans have no room to criticise when it comes to rewarding idiotic behaviour, however even we are not dumb enough to have the federal government cut a paycheck for Snookie  and the gang from Jersey Shore.   We do pay San Fran Nancy Pelosi, but you don't want to get me started.  

Friday, November 12, 2010

This Guy GETS It

H.L. Mencken, for years my favorite cynic, has nothing on Adam Carolla.  In fact Carolla is the uber crank  we angry middle-aged white guys have been waiting for.  You may remember him from TV's "Man Show" or his radio work as Howard Stern's replacement but you really need to check out his brand new book to grasp just how hilariously prescient this guy is.   Chapters on kids,  the minimum-wage gilded cage, airport security, and women are fall down funny in addition to being spot on correct.  

In a perfect world this guy would be president.  Unfortunately we now live in a "politically correct" concentration camp that deems the likes of The Aceman the enemy.  He decidedly is NOT.  This tome should be required reading for our so called leaders and liberal knot-head pantywaists everywhere. 
Do yourself a favor; BUY THIS BOOK.   In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks will have you laughing out loud and later, after you think about it, near tears because he's right and you know it.

Friday, November 5, 2010


"Did we quit when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?"
"My advice is that you start drinking...heavily."  Those were the words of wisdom offered by John "Bluto" Blutarsky to Faber College freshman Kent Dorfman in the touchstone movie of my generation, "Animal House".    It is excellent advice for residents of the once "Golden State" of California now that we have, in a haze of marijuana smoke, once again elected our very own "Bluto", Jerry Brown, as governor.  Goddamn Governor Moonbeam is BAAAACCCCKKK!  And, as if that weren't bad enough, we have also managed to give Mandy Pepperidge, aka Nancy Pelosi, another six years at the Washington teat.  (She's done such a great job you know.)  Maybe we need some sort of mental test before people are trusted with a ballot, or at least restrict voting to folks who actually pay taxes and have some skin in the game.  Knowing the issues would be a nice touch too.
Mandy Pepperidge Pelosi
After Tuesday's election it is apparent that most of the country, even Michigan and Wisconsin for God sakes, has come to its collective senses.  Adults who grasp the concept of only spending money you actually have in the bank is the way to begin the task of fixing this wonderful country.  At last the cavalry has arrived!
Naturally, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Delaware, and the Peoples Republic of Oregon remain with California in the dumb row of our semi United States.  (Washington could go either way but  definitely is in need of some sort of remedial intervention.)
Maybe there is some way to group these dippy states into a kind of "We want to be just like Europe" Republic.  Or, better yet, let's just declare them an asylum.  (You know...GOON GARAGE!)
If you need me, I'll be getting an estimate from Bekins.  Wyoming and Nevada are starting to look real good to me.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

All We Are Saying Is...

A lot is being made of next Tuesday's election and what it means for America.
Not that you asked, but here is what I think.

The citizens of this country are fed up.  We trust NO ONE.  We will vote for candidates who appear to offer to do the least damage.  Republicans, because they're out of power, should win big.  They should not take this as a mandate to do any more than back us the hell out of the government cesspool we're neck deep in.  A return to fiscal responsibility and the cherished principals of self reliance and individual reward for hard work are what we are after.
America is, and always has been, about the ability to succeed or fail on your own.  The only folks who seem to have forgotten this reside in the political class and the rest of us are sick of it.  Because of short-sighted, self possessed professional politicians who cynically buy the votes of an all too often lazy electorate, using their own tax dollars, our country is at risk.  REAL TROUBLE!  Spending money we don't have on so called "entitlements" and leaving the tab for our kids and grandkids is morally reprehensible and frankly impossible to maintain.  The time to settle up is NOW.  The freeload is over!

Of course there will be some pain.  A bender like the one we've been on demands the Mount Rushmore of hangovers.  I think the voters, on Tuesday, will say "We're ready, let's get started."  As long as the sacrifice is shared, Americans are surprisingly resilient.  A flat tax for everyone, means testing for social security, (most of us collect all we paid in after a couple of years in retirement), and an end to fat government departments that long ago should have been replaced by private industry are good places to start.

We have got to do this!  If our current leadership in Washington can't handle a $700 billion bailout program, (and they can't), how can they possibly manage a multi TRILLION dollar health care program or any of the other crack brained projects they have floated?  Based on their staggering record of incompetence, the answer is worse than anything you could imagine.

November 2 is not just a mid-term election.  It is the first round of the fight to take back our country from the people who remain clueless to what America is all about.  Let's send the bastards packin'. The power of the ballot box is mighty. We can do this.  God help us if we fail.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Fork Over the Candy...Or the Kid Gets It!

"Can I take this off?  I don't feel so good."
I hated Halloween when I was a kid.  In the first place I didn't like candy and, an even bigger problem,  was that I was completely embarrassed to be seen in the typical homemade or dime store costume that mom insisted I wear.  There were only two store bought getups as I recall:  a hotter than hell plastic "Big Bad Wolf" deal that lasted until I was seven or eight and a "Bugs Bunny" disgrace that smelled funny and had a tail no boy wants to sport.  I dreaded the approach of October 31 as if I were going to "the chair"..  
Don't get me wrong.  I would trick or treat with my friends, but only as a reluctant participant and would always hang back when doorbells were rung for candy.  Secretly I hoped my sack would be missed when the adults dropped carmels, candy corns, popcorn balls and candied apples into the black holes of greed offered up by my fellow juvenile delinquents.  I could barely wait for the evening to be over.  It all seemed so completely dumb.  Sort of like having to work the night shift only to find out you'd been paid in Confederate money.  I couldn't even use candy to bribe my brother.  He, unlike me, loved Halloween and plowed through the neighborhood harvesting every sweet goodie proffered by the grown-ups.  By the time I got home he was already in a sugar induced coma and it would be weeks before skittles or tootsie rolls would be a powerful incentive for him to do my bidding. 

 Halloween became more fun for me when I got to high school.  That's when the "tricks" part of the equation took precedence over the "treats".  Growing up in rural and small town America meant that there were almost unlimited opportunities for mischief requiring flaming bags, repositioned outhouses, and hard cider fueled mayhem.  Good times!
" Come on guys, let's just move this just a couple of feet back from the hole."
Now, as a grandfather and fultime geezer, I love Halloween.  I can't wait for October 31 and the army of little beggars from the neighborhood to ring our bell and wave the open maw of their sacks at me.  I've been ready for them for months!  Literally.  Around July I start throwing bags of candy into the cart when Linda and I are grocery shopping.  "Hey, it'll be Halloween before you know it", I say when she asks me what the hell I'm doing.  I offer some lame excuse about noticing a new family with at least eleven or twelve kids new to the neighborhood.  Sometimes it works.  My goal, you see, is to always have enough candy in the pantry to take care of the trick or treaters AND have enough left over to last me for the rest of the year.  
  I have you see, in my dotage, become a candy junkie.  Some of my friends tell me that it's from giving up booze nearly eleven years ago.  I don't know.  Whatever the reason, I now seek out sweets like congress seeks your wallet.  It's shameless, but I can't control it.  I want it ALL!  Snickers, 3 Musketeers, Butterfingers, candy kisses, if it has sugar...GIMMEE!

So, ATTENTION NEIGHBORHOOD KIDS!  If you are planning on hitting the old Copper mansion this Halloween, get here EARLY.  I start getting stingy as the night wears on.  I will not make the same mistake I made last year when I let my son-in-law, Doug, do the candy dispensing early in the evening.  He was giving out goodies by the fistfull!  I had forgotten that he is a Democrat.  A mistake I will NOT MAKE AGAIN!

Happy Halloween Kiddies!  Empty you bags of candy into Mr. Copper's bowl and no one will get hurt.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Notes to a Grandson on his 1st Birthday

Newborn Dan with Grandma Copper
Danny and Grandma Copper
"What have you done now Grandpa?!"
Danny, the very best grandson a guy could ever have, is a year old today.
Brand new Daniel

How did that happen?  Probably the same way Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas somehow arrive at warp speed due to some sort of intergalactic fart in the time/space continuum.  Any way you measure it, life happens at a pace nearly identical to the inflation of grandpa's prostate and DEflation of his brain cells. Nonetheless, in spite of gramps being short on grey matter, an annual review is in order.  As soon as I'm finished we can both plant our mugs in some delicious birthday cake and raise hell until nap time.
Here is what you have managed to accomplish in your first year of life young Daniel:

First of all, you made grandpa mist up just a little when your mom said, "Wanna hold him?" just minutes after your debut.  You were so alert and your eyes full of wonder, promise and fun all at once.  It was obvious then that we would become great pals and have many adventures together.
You also, and I'm extremely proud of you for this, have become an inveterate flirt with the ladies.  George Clooney should take lessons from you!  Grandma Copper is shameless where you're concerned.  I'd be worried if it weren't for the age difference.
You have developed a superior sense of humor.  Grandpa's Donald Duck impression and myriad of embarrassing sound effects usually reduce you to outright prolonged laughter.  (A sign of good taste..or, a hopeless psychopathic disorder.)
You've mastered so many essential baby basics during this important year!  Filling your diapers, cutting teeth, rolling over, crawling on all fours with verve and style, pulling the dog's tail, saying 'momma and dadda" and standing on your own just to name a few.  I especially like the way you climb the stairs and, just as Sir Edmund Hillary before you, turn around to wave good-bye after every two or three steps.
Unlike most one-year-olds, you skipped the baby food stage (I don't blame you) and went straight for the good stuff when you began to crave something more than mommas milk.  Pizza, steak, chicken and cheese seem to be a hit with you and grandpa takes great pride in having introduced you to chocolate flavored Cheerios, which you give every indication of being ready to KILL for.

All things considered, it has been an auspicious start.  A good year!
Of course, like every aspect of life, there have been a few unpleasant things to learn.  A bonk on the head makes you cry, being tired and cranky is frustrating, naps are NO FUN and not being able to play with the toy you want right now can be infuriating.  (You'll never get over that one.)  I know you don't appreciate these annoyances at present but you'll find them to be character builders that will make you stronger in the future.
You are a lucky boy, Danny.  You have the best mom and dad a kid could ever want and grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who love you very much.  A real head start.

For your first anniversary on this planet here is some advice that should serve you well.

"The pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects it to change...and the REALIST adjusts his sails."    -unknown

May the winds be with you, Danny, as you sail into your second year.
Dad, Mom, Danny
Watching that wacky Craig Ferguson with Gramps
"Yep, I'm one year old"
The best toy is this empty jar
"Where is Talking Carl?"
The key to crawling is...hand knee, hand knee

Friday, October 8, 2010

Why Meg Gets My Vote

Not that it will make any difference, but Meg Whitman can't possibly be worse for California than the already MORE than tried Jerry Brown.  I know this because I was here for the previous rein of Governor Moonbeam and, unless I have completely taken leave of my senses, the only semi smart move he made during that run was ditching Linda Ronstadt before she discovered ice cream and cake.  The man was a disaster.  
Not only did he give us Rose Bird as chief justice of the California Supreme Court, a woman who ignored the will of the people by overruling 64 consecutive death penalty verdicts, he also pandered to the environmental extremists by refusing to spray for Mediterranean fruit flies until the entire agricultural heart of California was in jeopardy.  But most important of all his administration really began the virtual hand off of  the state coffers to the California employee unions and their bloated pension plans, a disgrace that has driven the budget over the cliff of fiscal responsibility.  Jerry Brown is a professional politician, an insult right up there with rapist, serial polygamist, and commie bed wetter in today's lexicon. He has never had a REAL JOB!  He has been: governor, attorney general, mayor of Oakland and now wants to be governor once again.  And, it's not like he left those previously held positions in better shape after his stewardship.  Been to Oakland lately?
The people of California, and especially the Democrats, have to start asking themselves "Is this the best we can do?"
No, Meg probably can't do much better because, like Gulliver, she will be up against the entrenched Lilliputians in Sacramento who are only concerned with getting re-elected as they continue to pander to the public employee unions and the education Nazis who insist that increased teacher pay and smaller classes are the ticket to all our problems.   Unlike self-made millionaire Meg, they don't mind spending your tax bucks to do it.  Disgraceful!
California has got to change the way it does business, or at least begin to acknowledge that a state requires leaders with business acumen to take the wheel.  There is no alternative.  We are too far "down the road" and "the can" can be kicked no further.  The time is NOW.
Let's give the candidate with a full head of hair a shot this time.  We've seen Jerry's act before.  We know it's slick but, like his scalp, there is NOTHING there.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Stink Bugs and Stinky Inky Ideas

Now it's not just a bedbug invasion to worry about.
Apparently the Middle Atlantic states are up to their Middle Atlantic asses in stink bugs.  The funny thing, at least to me, is that these particular stink bugs look nothing like what passes for stink bugs in California.  They don't even smell the same!  Out here we have these semi nasty looking hard shelled creepy crawlers that stink like last week's garbage when you step on them.  Their stinky Middle Atlantic cousins appear to be brown with some kind of knight's shield pattern  on them and they emit a pungent odor often described as "skunklike" by folks administering a size ten.  The east coast stinkers also have an appetite for things like apples, grapes, and tomatoes instead of the leftover pizza preferred by their California counterparts.    Anyway, several universities and the federal government are working on how to best handle the situation and, I fear, will get back to us shortly with how much we need to fork over to adios these hard shelled freeloaders.  (The treasury is just a little low right now, maybe you've heard.)
Perhaps an early hard freeze in the old mid Atlantic will buy us all a little time.  This blog will stay on top of breaking developments.  (Team coverage and all that...)
HEY KIDS.......What rhymes with STINK?
INK, naturally.  
Don't have a tattoo?  You must be OLD!
I read something in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal that astounded me.  "Nearly two in five,  or 38% of millennials, those 18 through 29, have at least one tattoo, compared with 32% of gen-Xers and 15% of baby boomers."  All this from a Pew Research Center survey of 2,020 adults.  The most disturbing aspect of this is that 38% of the generation we old cats will hand the reins to in a couple of years are drunk enough to think getting a tat is a good career move.  Nothing says "I want the job" like a really neat spider web neck tattoo.  Or, better yet,  having L O V E spelled out on your sausage like digits.
What's next?  Self mutilation?  Oh wait, I forgot about the piercing thing.
Here's my advice for those of you looking forward to a comfortable retirement:
Buy all the stock you can grab in companies that manufacture laser tattoo removal machines.  Because, body "art" that looks cool in 2010 is guaranteed to look like a bad case of skin cancer in 2040.
You're welcome, whippersnappers!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Grumpy? Old? You Bet!

And I have a list...

As we grow older most of us get a little grumpy about a lot of things.  I think that's healthy.  After all, it simply shows that you've been paying attention.

When guys get to the point in life where our prostate exceeds the size of our ego it sort of puts things in perspective.  We know what we like and we know what pisses us off.

Here are a few things that I can do without:

Bald guys with ponytails
The Federal Government
State and Local Government
Baseball's designated hitter
Newt Gingrich (Shut up fatso!)
Oprah (See above)
Local TV news (Insipid)
National TV news (Infantile)
White guys talking black (Zip it "Bro'")
Cell phones (even though I have one)
Women (and it's always women) who drive 55 on surface streets and 55 on the freeway (maybe just a California thing...guys know that it's 45 on surface streets and 95 freeway))
Stephen Colbert (a one note samba...yeah, we get it, you're sarcastic)
Prius (who says hybrids have to be butt ugly?)
People who use "what not" as a collective noun
Bill Maher (one snotty SOB)
Rap music (please, no one can really think it's anything but crap)
Reality TV
People who say "awesome" an awesome amount of the time
Those restroom paper towel dispensers you have to wave at to dry your hands.  BAD engineering!
Airports, airlines, air travel, the TSA
Linda yelling at me for yelling at the news on TV
Realizing that my list of dislikes could go on for a couple of hundred more pages

Oops, I am nearly out of time and space.  The news is about to come on and I've got some serious yelling to do.

To be continued...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Welcome Bums

When I was a kid my Grandpa Copper asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Without hesitation I replied, "I wanna be a bum."  Not at all startled by this not so high minded career calling my granddad nodded his head and said, "Just make sure that you're a rich bum."  Naturally I got into broadcasting.
It worked out pretty well.  A "work" day that lasted three to four hours, involved no heavy lifting, and was invariably air-conditioned and indoors put me in the higher echelon of bumdom.  No sleeping on the streets in crap encrusted jeans sporting an oily gimme cap and smelling of wee wee for me.  Also, no cardboard sign sporting the required "Will work for food" (but would prefer cash).  Alas, with the radio and television business circling the drain lately, there are now few remaining venues where bums can prosper.
In Portland, Oregon that's okey dokey.  Portland, you see, like much of the Pacific Northwest and other enclaves of liberal thinking continues to hang out the "Welcome Bums" sign.  "No job, no money, no hygiene, NO PROBLEM" would seem to be the mantra of the Rose City.  It's a shame really.  With spectacular views of natural beauty in every direction, Portland is one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities in America.  I've been here for a few days now and, like every time I visit, I'm amazed by the variety and abundance of restaurants, cultural events, and artistic opportunities.  It could be one of the finest metropolitan areas in America---except for the BUMS.  They are everywhere.  Aggressive panhandling, public urination and really nasty looking hair do nothing for the aesthetics of any town and tell much about the mentality of the folks who run the joint.
Portland needs to send its city fathers and mothers to New York City.  Better yet, they should buy Rudy Giuliani a plane ticket and hire him to whisper the secret of how he cleaned up his city and made it once again a delightfully exciting place to visit.  
Come on you can do it.  Any city that is home to the cultural grandeur that is VooDoo Donuts can right its ship of state and sail into the pantheon of "must go there" destinations.
Do it soon Portland or remain evergreen and puzzling to us all.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Urban Renewal?

So Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf wants to build a mosque, or community center, or prayer room right next door to Ground Zero?  And this is a good idea why?  Oh, that's right, to promote diversity and understanding.  Maybe then we, the intolerant and mostly infidel, Americans will comprehend the wonderfulness of his dopey seventh century religion.  You know, the one where women are treated like property and non-believers are beheaded.  The religion of peace don't ya know.  Well, this is "the land of the free" after all and he and his followers are welcome to do as they please with their real estate and to hell with all of those who think otherwise.  No matter that nearly three-thousand innocent Americans were murdered in the name of Islam just, you should pardon the expression, a stone's throw away from what is to be the site of the new mosque.  ONLY THIS SITE WILL DO.

Since the Imam is all about diversity and understanding, even though he doesn't understand that Hamas is a terrorist organization, here is a dandy idea to help fulfill his vision for lower Manhattan.
Let's give him some neighbors for his new project.  A couple of strip clubs and a liquor store or two should serve to broaden the Imam's horizons.  Since he seems to have turned a deaf ear to pleas from the families of the victims of  9/11, perhaps this plan dreamed up by a proud member of Team Infidel will convince him of the impropriety of his vision.  
Liquor stores, strip clubs, maybe a gay bar or two...just what is needed to keep that "diversity and understanding" thing going.  Or, better yet, the Imam could just take his plans and hit the road.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Is That A Remote In Your Hand...Or, Are You Just Glad to See Me?

It took the local paper a couple of weeks to get around to picking up the wire story.  How could they be so dense?!  She just lived up the road and for guys like me who grew up in the 50's she was  the real "Queen of the West".  (Face it, Dale Evans was way too old--more suited to dad.)  Gloria Winters, aka Penny King, died August 14 at her home in Vista, California.  She was in her late 70's.

LATE SEVENTIES??!!  How did that happen?  We're talkin' Sky King's niece Penny.  She filled out a cowboy shirt like no other wholesome Saturday morning regular.  "Out of the clear blue of the Western sky" wholesome.  Brought to you by Nabisco wholesome.  She was the stuff pre pubescent boy dreams are made of.  (Okay, some pubescent and post pubescent boy dreams too.)
In case you were off the planet from 1952-1959, Sky King was a modern day western featuring a rancher/pilot who got into weekly TV adventures involving a myriad of bad guys bent on robbing banks, stealing cattle, and general impolite misbehavior.  Penny was Sky's perky, pretty, pugnacious teenage charge who often became caught up in his adventures.
She was hot, so hot that often times the hooligans of the week were inclined to snatch Penny and use her as a negotiating chip when, as was inevitable, Sky had them surrounded.  Penny spent an inordinate amount of time tied up at the old line shack.

In 1975 my job as a radio blabbermouth found me working in Tampa, Florida where one of our station promotions involved co-hosting a model airplane contest at Busch Gardens with Kirby Grant the actor who had played Sky King.  I was thrilled to get the chance to meet one of my childhood heroes and actually looked forward to doing the show with him.  When the event rolled around I found myself backstage with Mr. Grant who was, to my delight, decked out in his Sky King outfit.  Though he looked older, he still fit the cowboy duds nicely and seemed to relish the chance to once again play the character that had made him a star.
Things went south when, as I stuck out my hand to meet him, I said, " Gee,  Uncle Sky what were all those bad guys doing with Penny when they had her tied up at the old line shack?"  He gave me a look like I had just relieved myself in his Nabisco shredded wheat.  Oops!  Things went downhill from there.  I was definitely off the Sky King Christmas list.  Once again being a wise ass had taken me into a box canyon of no return.  We got through the show, but Kirby Grant wasn't ever going to give me Gloria Winters phone number.
So now she's gone and all these years she had lived just a few miles up the road from me here in California.  Life is cruel, but at least in America young men have fantasies about real girls.

Not so in Japan...
In the Wall Street Journal a couple of days back there was a front page story about young Japanese men checking into a special hotel featuring "virtual girlfriends".  After choosing one of three female characters--Goodie Goodie Manaka, sassy Rinko, or big sister type Nene to be a steady girlfriend the young player heads for a special hotel room where they exchange flirtatious text messages  and even some virtual kisses. No wonder they lost the war.

I think I'll stick to my good old American fantasies like Uncle Sky's niece Penny.  The funny thing is Sky King probably would have been okay giving one of the Japanese guys Penny's number.  One of them could then send a text message Penny could ignore.
She, no doubt, had more fun spending time with the good old American hoods at the line shack.

Thanks for the smiles and the dreams Penny.  We boomer boys will be along to rescue you...probably sooner than we'd like.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Might As Well Be Next Week

It started just the other day. 
The shadows are longer; there is a diffuse and sort of film noir quality to the late afternoons that hints at what passes for the change from Summer to Fall in Southern California.  Kids head back to school next week which always means cooler and quieter evenings in the neighborhood.  Mounds of Halloween candy fill an entire section at  Costco now and the Christmas doodads can't be far behind. 
Except for the realization that another year is nearly shot to hell, Fall is the absolute best time of year nearly everywhere.  Labor Day, not January 1, feels more like the beginning of a new year just as Memorial Day always seems more like the end.  Whatever the case, it all is moving faster and faster.  I swear I can feel the breeze of passing time hit my face like a gale force wind.

My brother tells me on the phone from Illinois, "I think mom has forgotten how a light switch works.  She unplugs the lamp in her room at the nursing home instead of turning it off--same goes for the TV."  I find myself wondering how the coming change of season looks to her.  Does it register,  or is it just more shadows to contend with as she fades into dementia?
I start to make a mental note of all the plug in appliances we have around the house.  Let's see...bread maker, ice cream freezer, electric carving knife, can opener, (no...haven't seen that one for years).  I can't remember the last time any of these were plugged in except the carving knife.  It gets a workout every Thanksgiving.  Maybe mom is on to something.  I should just unplug everything.  The clocks might be a problem, but there is always a wristwatch handy.  Who needs to know what time it is anyway?  It's slipping through our fingers too rapidly as it is.
What time is sundown today?  I should be reserving a West facing corner of the backyard as my observation outpost.  After all, I am the vice president of sunsets for the Pacific time zone and the sun is not allowed to set until I give it the okay. 
If you're reading this in the Midwest and find that it is already pitch black outside, mom may have pulled the plug a little early.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ancient Rome Anyone?

Initially they were there because during times of fragmented audiences and runaway production budgets they were cheap and easy.  I don't think anybody at the networks had an inkling of how, like pigs to slop, Americans would belly up to dreck like Survivor, American Idol, Big Brother, and countless other witless and dippy examples of human discomfit.
REALITY BITES!  Face it, these shows are squirm inducing monuments to narcissism and man's unique ability to ignore what the rest of the world recognizes as a complete void of talent and personality.  It's train wreck television and in the age of idiocracy it is a ratings winner.  Damn, it is awful!
I checked out the first episode of Survivor.  I thought it might be an interesting change.  By the first commercial break I found myself hating ALL of the participants and wondered where the network was able to find such a massive collection of complete (sorry) dicks to be on the show.  An hour into the program I was ready to take a flame thrower to the entire cast and, if I could have found it, my shotgun was prepared to "Elvis" the TV set.  I was enraged.  Was America really stupid enough to watch this crap?!  The answer was, of course, in the affirmative.  Troubling.
Apparently there are enough nimrods willing to watch other nimrods embarrass themselves on television and, bingo, ladies and gentlemen...we have a hit on our hands.  Now it's everywhere.  Even shows like the Tonight Show incorporate elements of reality TV into their traditional format.  "Jay Walking" is a very disturbing feature of Jay Leno's nightly gabfest.  In case you've missed it, this benchmark has Jay asking people on the street questions that any D minus third-grader should be able to get right.  Naturally, they don't.  Am I the only one who finds this infuriating?  It's NOT funny.  It's sad.  It makes me wonder  how our schools can consistently be so horrible that we unfailingly  graduate a nation of functional illiterates who, though well into adulthood, have no clue about...ANYTHING.  I fear for a country full of women who can't complete a simple sentence without the word "like" and men who dress as if they're still in grade school and sport spider neck tattoos and pants that appear to be toting a load.
Bringing back the draft might be a step in the right direction.  Maybe a couple of years in the Army might pound some intelligence into these dopes.  It worked in the sixties.

Maybe I should just give up on TV.  Now that I reflect on it, the only shows worth watching lately are on premium channels like Showtime, HBO, AMC and FX.  The Sopranos, Rescue Me, Rubicon, Damages, Louie, Mad Men, and others require that you at least have your GED.  Perhaps the lame stream programing of ABC, CBS, and NBC deserves to be the home of the slag heap that is reality TV.  Watch if you must but know that for every hour you spend viewing shows like Survivor your losing at least five IQ points.  There goes the Mensa picnic.

Fast food and HDTV...bread and circuses anyone?

"Stupid is as stupid does." - Forrest Gump

Friday, August 13, 2010

Burning Memories

 tExcept for the occasional dialog that doesn't sound like something we would have said in the 1960's, Mad Men has it down cold. It is the AMC series of three martini lunches, avarice, adultery,  and ass kissing in the advertising business during the age of the "New Frontier" and hula hoops.  The producers have done their homework.  The clothing, furniture, cars, and kids all look letter perfect to those of us who were around for the early years of an America that knew no bounds.

The most striking visual, at least to me, is the smoking.  We smoked EVERYWHERE and nearly all the time back then.  Planes, restaurants, offices, cars, home, no place was "smoke free".  It seemed as if everybody smoked because, in fact, they pretty much DID.  My dad smoked; mom didn't.  I can't recall a single friend whose dad was a non smoker, though I'm sure that one or two probably were.  Maybe half of the moms were inclined to fire up a Chesterfield, though they never seemed to smoke as much as the guys.

From the time most of us boomers were able to walk and talk we, okay mostly the guys, couldn't wait until we were old enough to buy a pack of butts and join the big boys' club.  We bought candy cigarettes and played with our pencils in school as if they were smokes and, when we had the chance, stole a stick or two from the old man's pack and lit up in the woods.  Camels were purloined by me and the Chamberlain boys next door because, well...that was the brand our dads bought.  I still remember Bob Chamberlain being sent home from Boy Scout camp because he got caught hiding a pack of Camels in his canteen.  (The idea was pure genius until the scoutmaster borrowed the canteen and filled it with water.  I don't know if he was mad at Bob for swiping something from his dad or if he was pissed because the cigs were so soaked he couldn't light them.)

Being teens in the 1960's most boomers began to smoke.  Hell, we had practiced for years and that stuff about smoking causing cancer and other bad junk was all new from the AMA and was probably wrong anyway.  Right?   I smoked.  My friends smoked.  In college they even had ash trays in the classroom!  (The best place to buy smokes at odd hours during college was in the basement of the University medical school where there was always a machine.  Nobody smoked more than doctors.)  Cigarettes were something fun to do that made you look more mature and besides, we were all going to live forever.  

I quit smoking years ago, as did most of my friends.  These days I hardly know anyone who smokes.  No smoking rules have made it nearly impossible to be a smoker.  You can't smoke on planes or at work; you most likely can't light up at home and woe be unto you if you reach for a cigarette in a restaurant.  It's hard work to be a smoker in 2010.  But here's the funny thing:  I would go back to it in a minute if it were safe and inoffensive.  Smoking was something to do with your hands in social situations.  It was a relaxing ritual and, let's face it, most people look kind of cool doing it.  It doesn't come to me in dreams to lure me to an early grave like booze does, but I think about it just the same.
The last time I bought cigarettes on a regular basis they cost about eighty cents a pack.  In the early 60's of Mad Men they went for around thirty or forty cents.  
Two weeks ago in New York, out of pure curiosity, I checked on the price of a pack of Marlboro's at a bodega on the Lower East Side.
$10.58  for ONE PACK!

No wonder 2010 doesn't look like 1964.
Party on Don Draper.

Friday, August 6, 2010

I Know We're Pals, But...

He's kind of like an old Army buddy who comes to visit for a couple of days; then two weeks later is reminding you that you're out of vermouth.  I hadn't seen too much of my old chum Al the alligator lizard who spends Summers on the sunny side of our patio.  It's generally part of my routine to check on him as he catches rays from late May through the generally breezy and dry days of late October.

We've been having a particularly cool July and August in Southern California, the coolest since the 1930's according to the experts, and that is why I assumed Al had been making himself scarce.
Nope, that would have been too easy.  It would appear that he has decided that his cold blood is more suited to a different clime.

It wasn't so much a scream,  it was an expletive that told me Linda had encountered a not so welcome surprise in our garage yesterday as we returned from the gym.  (She is not as fond of Al as I am.)  He somehow managed to break into the garage and position himself right next to the door leading to the kitchen.  Not a good move for the old boy since this is where we often chuck various pairs of shoes we are not fond of wearing in the house.  In fact, I'm willing to bet that some of these shoes Linda will not be wearing anywhere ever again.  Naturally, this has created a SITUATION.  Even though alligator lizards eat bugs, spiders and snails it is now my major mission in life to evict Al from the garage.  I really hate to do it.  He is a Padre fan, (and they are in first place), a quiet neighbor and a family guy. (I've counted at least three new "little Als" in the backyard this year.)  
Maybe if I offered him the TV a couple of nights a week to watch the Friars beat up on the Dodgers or the Diamondbacks?  Nah, Linda will never go for that.

If you need me, I'll be in the garage wearing my old combat boots and sporting a large shoe box.  I have a dead spider that might interest my old friend but, frankly, I don't think he'll fall for it.  
I'll come up with something...or be sleeping with Al and the cars tonight.

A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Apple Goes Slo Mo

We first started coming to New York a couple of times a year back in 94' when our daughter and her husband decided to call it home.  As typical laid back Californians, my wife and I were amazed at the energy and excitement of "the city so big they had to name it twice".  The place was like a cage full of Guinna pigs on crack and it was unbelievably LOUD!  (That loud part comes in handy for covering up embarrassing old guy noises that my body increasingly makes.)
Everybody in New York was in a hurry.  It made other cities seem like they were on Ritalin or something.
As I sit with my feet up in California, resting up  from  days spent impersonating the "careful quick and kind" man from Bekins' Moving as Linda and I attempted to help "the kids" move from a fifth floor walk-up on the Lower East Side to a nice new condo in Long Island City, I have concluded that the Apple has slowed down.  No, really,  it has been a gradual slowing, but a slowing that is palpable and pervasive.
Cell phones.  People are on cell phones; all the time.  New Yorkers are so damn busy yakking that they have slowed their pace to a point where the whole place resembles a mental institution featuring millions of rambling nitwits gesticulating wildly as they carry on disjointed, though still loudly modulated, conversations at all hours of the day.  It is a marked change in behavior that now has me passing the natives on sidewalks, escalators, and subway platforms where I was once Manhattan roadkill.  It's a distinct advantage.  Yay me!
I gladly warn those of you who may be planning a trip to New York sometime soon.  Be careful, as you now have a very good chance of running over the locals as you check out the sites of this fabulous metropolis.  (If you're from Iowa disregard this advice and pick up your pace.)  It is in your best interest to simply leap over or step around the natives and be on your way, otherwise you'll be yelled at.  New Yorkers may be slower these days but the place is louder than ever.  All those phone conversations, you know.
By the way...How do you like the picture of the Manhattan skyline I snapped from the kids' new balcony in L.I.C.?  It's beautiful in daylight and spectacular at night and there is even room for our pup tent.
Yep, that's the Chrysler Building on the left: not a cell tower.