Friday, December 28, 2018

This Should Work! Pass the foie gras...

"No idea too dumb, no stunt too stupid!"
DAMN!  Why didn't I think of this?!
Jean-Jacques Savin set sail two days ago from Spain's Canary Islands fulfilling his crack brained idea of making it to the Caribbean, a mere 3,000 miles away, in a bright orange barrel.  Was Niagara Falls booked?

I'm jealous.  In a lifetime devoted to ill considered ideas and embarrassing stunts usually conceived by either a radio station promotion department or an extended evening at a saloon, I've never managed to come up with something this dumb.  Oh sure, there was the crashing of the hot air balloon, a poorly thought out bathtub race and that unfortunate fishing trip where I returned with no fish, no equipment and no clothes (a story for another time), but nothing as nuts as this dude's flirtation with insanity.

To be fair it has been reported that Jean-Jacques has equipped his giant sized bobber with a bunk,  a kitchen,  storage areas and a porthole in the floor which will enable him to watch fish.  I see no mention of plumbing but he did stash a few bottles of good wine and a block of foie gras aboard.  Those wacky French!  He also claims to have fortified this resin-coated plywood suicide tub sufficiently enough to make it possible to withstand attacks from orca whales.  I can't help wondering how that plywood holds up against a 100,000 ton oil tanker or a Navy destroyer.  Just asking.

Mr. Savin is hoping to reach Barbados in about three months but would prefer a French island like Martinique to make paperwork easier and "for bringing the barrel back".  Perhaps washing up on the shores of an island with a good mental hospital?

Whatever the case it's good to know that the world, especially France, still has a prodigious output of wackjobs.  I only hope America can keep up.

Hmm...  Mt. Rainier is only a couple of hundred miles from my current location.  I can't help wondering if anybody has ever scaled that majestic peak in their underwear?

Ain't No Mountain High Enough!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Some Christmas Leer?

When I was a boy disc jockey in the late 1960's the introduction of Christmas music shortly after Thanksgiving was a welcome reprieve from the steady diet of pop pap that comprised the playlist at most radio stations.  We jocks would sooner take a beating than to listen to one more clunker from the Archies, the DeFranco Family or Mungo Jerry and don't get me started on the Poppy Family and the 1910 Fruitgum Company.  The Christmas tunes were a fine respite for two or three weeks and then at high noon on Christmas day it was time to return to the wasteland of heavy hits.

For my money one of the best holiday hits was Dean Martin's rendition of "Baby It's Cold Outside."  Old Deano gave that chestnut just enough sizzle and sex to put a smile on your face no matter what team you suit up for in the gender war.  It was, and still is, a harmless and decidedly upscale take on wintertime seduction.   I'm more than a little bit surprised by all the PC nonsense that put this holiday classic in the penalty box at many major broadcast outlets.  What gives?!  There were and ARE plenty of yuletide tone poems guaranteed to fire up the PC police.  I know because I played them.

"Santa Claus Is Back In Town" by Elvis is a jewel which features lines such as:

"Got no sleigh with reindeer, no pack on my back
your gonna see me comin' in a big black Cadillac
Hang up your pretty stockings
Turn off the light
Santa Claus is comin' down your chimney tonight"

Chuck Berry's "Run Run Rudolph" from 1958 still gets plenty of airplay in spite of being loaded with enough references to "girl child" and "boy child" to get progressive panties and boxers in a twist.  Rudolph "whizzing like a Saber jet" should set their hair on fire too.

Don Cornell and Teresa Brewer had a dandy, "You'll Never Get Away", featuring Teresa singing "I'll become a train and choo choo out of sight" to Don's melodic reply of, "Then I'll become a red caboose and trail you day and night."  Stalking? Hmmm.

Depending on who's singing, "Santa Baby" can be a bit on the sleazy side but "Back Door Santa" rendered by both Clarence Carter and B.B. King must certainly be the heavyweight champion of all randy Christmas offerings.  Naturally, it's my favorite.

How can "Baby It's Cold Outside" compare to lines such as:

"They call me back door Santa
I make my runs about the break of day
I make all the little girls happy
While the boys are out to play"

"I keep some change in my pocket, in case the children are home
I give them a few pennies so that we can be alone
I leave the back door open so if anybody smells a mouse
And wouldn't old Santa be in trouble if there ain't no chimney in the house"
"They call me back door Santa."
"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause" begs the question, was mommy a willing tonsil hockey participant underneath the mistletoe last night?  Did she give her consent, or was she merely angling for a new fur coat or tennis bracelet from North Pole Fats?  Where was dad???  It's all so sordid.

It's hard to imagine why the snowflake posse of the PC police have devoted all their energy to squelch a harmless ditty like "Baby It's Cold Outside" when there are so many targets of opportunity for these humorless humps.  With luck they'll tire of getting their mad on over nothing, but don't bet on it.  Wait until they find out about Albert King's "Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin" or "It's So Chic to be Pregnant at Christmas" by Nancy White.  Let me cue those up for you.  They're sure to get your Christmas started with a bang.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Don't Call Me "The Wrapper!"

Y chromosome at work.
My rapping skills are nonexistent and my gift wrapping talents, in need of improvement. 
As anyone who has ever received a present from me will attest, my packaging suffers from the four "P's".  Piss poor product presentation.  This comes just as naturally to me as D minuses did in high school geometry.  Any item wrapped by yours truly and placed under the Christmas tree is easily identifiable by its insane lack of any understanding of spacial concepts or planning.  My work is so laughable that I am convinced the trend toward fancy bags with even fancier paper spilling out their tops was inspired by designers who checked out my product.  I go for the bag thing whenever it's available.  It's so damn festive looking and there is no noisy ripping and tearing necessary.  Classy by proxy.

When my kids were little they could always spot the gifts from daddy and were understandably concerned if said gift contained a present that had been put together by their old man.  The Barbie doll house, a perfect case in point, practically classified as a tear down by the time I completed the "easy to assemble" miniature real estate nightmare.  The elevator was perpetually stuck between floors and some of the walls, I later discovered, were upside down.  Barbie scowled at me as I struggled to complete construction in the wee hours of Christmas morning.  This Ken she was ready to divorce! It was a welcome relief when the kids became old enough to request only some long green for Christmas.  They'd seen quite enough of my handiwork.

Maybe it's the Y chromosome that's the problem.  I'm fairly certain many of my brothers are similarly challenged when it comes to wrapping presents.  Take a look under your own tree.  You can take it to the bank any poorly wrapped gift is almost certainly the product of a male member of the household. Women, on the other hand, know how to have just enough paper and ribbon.  They also know how to make the corners of a package look neat with sharp creases and just a touch of scotch tape.  Do they take night classes for that stuff when we guys aren't looking?

This gift suffers from the four P's
Just thinking about all of this causes me a great deal of anxiety and I haven't yet begun to shop.  (Another scary experience that women seem to have under control.)  Maybe I'll lie down for awhile just to make sure I'm rested enough for the ordeal.  Let's see...I'll need to pick up some wrapping paper and scotch tape...Wait, maybe just some scotch?  A capital Christmas idea!  I'll do some one stop shopping at the liquor store.  Adult beverages for my adult friends!  It's perfect,  sloth, envy, greed and delusions of grandeur (the four essential food groups) all in a container that needs no wrapping.

You'll be able to spot your gift from me under the tree.
 It'll be the one that's leaking. 

Makes a lot of sense.

Friday, December 7, 2018

"Large and IN CHARGE"...Kramden for President!

The following is a re-post from October of 2011 as things were heating up for the coming presidential election.  Little did I know my dream would come close to fruition in 2016...

Now that the portly gentleman from New Jersey, Governor Christie, has officially expressed no interest in saving the country from the current empty suit hiding behind the curtain at land of OZ headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue, it's time for action.  We have gone far too long without a leader who knows how to wear big boy pants and pick up a spare when the team needs one on league bowling night.

The man for the job?  I give you Ralph Kramden of 328 Chauncey Street in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn New York.  A loyal husband, dedicated friend, hard working driver for his boss, Mr. Cunningham at the MTA, and longtime officer in the Loyal Order of Raccoons (where an emergency meeting is an emergency meeting and never a poker game).  Ralph Kramden knows how to live large on a salary of $62 per week.  (He hasn't had a raise in more than fifty years!)  Mr. Kramden is a man of BIG ideas as well as a man of size XXXL Sansabelt pants.  He is just what America needs to get back on track.  Unlike the current occupant of the White House, whose poll numbers are dropping like a melon off an overpass, Ralph Kramden is literally the 500 pound lowland gorilla we need to tackle the nation's problems.  He will embrace our travails with vigor and will not quit until they are vanquished.  (As you know, when a gorilla decides to embrace someone or something, it ain't over until the gorilla thinks it's over.)

Kramden meets with his cabinet
After his nomination and most certain election in 2012 Mr. Kramden can begin to implement his ideas starting with the selection of his cabinet members.  Outside of mandatory bowling leagues and ten cent beer nights, there will be no requirements regarding Raccoon headgear.  Raccoon lodge membership will be enforced for adult males with compensatory time off guaranteed for attendance at bi-monthly executive meetings.  Coonskin caps will be provided.

Candidate Kramden has asked upstairs neighbor and best friend, Ed Norton, to be his running mate and Mr. Norton has accepted on the condition that he will still be able to maintain his day job with the City of New York department of sanitation.  "Sometimes a man has gotta follow the smell of his dream," remarked Mr. Norton.  Norton's wife Trixie has been tapped as secretary of snacks and prizes.  All other cabinet and idiotic czar positions will be abolished with operational funds returned to the taxpayers.  As expected, Alice Kramden, the future president's wife of many years, is slated to head NASA.  If you don't know why, you're too young to be reading this blog.
Headed for D.C. in big pants with BIG ideas

Friday, November 30, 2018

Something To Put Behind Us

Tis' the season of giving and the majority of us have certain charities we like to remember with a tax deductible donation as the year winds down.  There are so many worthy causes and new ones are being added all the time.  Recently the tragedy of gluteal amnesia or "dead butt syndrome" was brought to my attention and it's a cause I believe we all can get behind.

Gluteal amnesia, or DBS, is a condition that occurs when the muscles in your rear end stop working correctly.  This can lead to lower back and hip pain more commonly known as "pain in the ass".  This condition is primarily caused by sitting too much while sporting excess adipose tissue, the unfortunate by-product of eating like we were going to the "chair".  It is a malady far too common among those of us of a certain age.

There is a simple test you can take to see if you have DBS:  Lie on your back and place your hands under your butt. Try to flex your right cheek and then you're left.  If your hands haven't fallen asleep from this move, you should be able to feel your rear muscles engage.  If you feel nothing you are officially a wide load in desperate need of a hind quarter muscle rebuild.

A good first step toward recovery from DBS is to remove your wallet from your hip pocket.  After doing so it would be an excellent idea to gather all credit cards and cash from the billfold and send it to "Butt for Love" or some other really great charity name I haven't thought up yet.  (These things take time!)  I can assure you that your donation will be put to the best possible use.  The Nigerian prince I've hired as our treasurer has promised to put all collected monies to good use as we take on the challenge of eliminating DBS in our lifetime.  At this moment he's out shopping for an RV we'll use to spread the word about the scourge of gluteal amnesia.

"Help!  My butt has amnesia!'
My new charity will do this out of love!  We want to get the monkey not "off your back", but "off your butt", as it is painfully obvious that the circus is still in town my friend.  So, if "Baby's Got Back", send us a SACK!  The first 500 generous Americans will receive a complimentary bean bag chair and a pie.

Trust me.. No, really.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Thankful? You Bet!

Yesterday, when you're supposed to at least give some serious consideration to your good fortune, I confess to being caught up in an orgy of gluttony and sloth.  After adding considerable ballast to the ever expanding life ring around my waist I took smug delight in watching the Saints smoosh those upstart Atlanta Hawks on national television.  I had been avoiding the NFL this year but it just isn't Thanksgiving without watching a Lions defeat and, since the TV was on, enjoying the Saints strut their stuff in the land of red beans and pinball machines.  I love New Orleans and do believe the Saints are going all the way this year.  Who Dat??

Today I'm taking a pass on Black Friday.  It's no fun to shop this early and frankly I prefer to be one of those last minute desperadoes who is out there throwing elbows and punches when there's real panic in the streets on December 24th.  Hey, I'm an adrenaline junkie!  So today, as I clean my house for company, I've been going over all of the many blessings that have come my way.

First of all, though it's embarrassing to discover the extra ten pounds of fun fat that has somehow found a home around my equator, I'm sure as hell happy not to have joined the ranks of the morbidly obese.  It's a real eye-opener to see all of my fellow Americans who have simply decided to say "screw it" and buy the sweat pants.  Maybe we should all have a salad now and then instead of the deep fried Twinkies and double cheese pizzas. You're not "big boned", you're "big intestined."

I'm grateful I lived through some of the stunts pulled by my testosterone poisoned pals and me  in high school and college; also for the fact that the Army needed my combat readiness to defend Kansas instead of Vietnam.  That state remains commie free to this day!

Thankful doesn't begin to describe how wonderful it was to have a career that was never really a job.  Being on the radio was something I loved and, in spite of working for a few asshats, there was never a day I didn't enjoy showing up.  The fact that there was no heavy lifting, plenty of air conditioning and no dressing up required was icing on the cake.

Friends, old and new, are more important with each passing year.  Those I once took for granted I now consider rare treasures and try to treat them as such.  I'm especially grateful to a woman with a very big heart who, having also lost a spouse, thinks I may be salvageable.  She enjoys housing restorations and knows that a 70 year-old (going on 15) male tear down is her greatest challenge.  I'm lucky she's willing to try.

Now, where are those leftover sweet potatoes?   NO diets allowed until after New Year's day.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Drunkest Fans? I Think Not...

In an effort to show a correlation between an NFL team's record and the blood alcohol content (BAC) of its fans, a recent study has determined that the Dallas Cowboys have the drunkest fans.  Sporting a BAC of 0.062 the Cowboys fans do give the impression of paying attention to the Boys' current (4-5) record.  Close behind are the New England Patriots faithful at 0.061, the Saints and Cardinals following at at 0.055 and Indianapolis checking in at the five slot with a BAC of 0.054.

For a number of reasons this study seems flawed to me.  It makes no sense that New Orleans, for example,  should be in anything other than first place.  If you've been to the Big Sleazy you know that at any given moment fifty percent of the citizens of NOLA are hammered to the gills, Saints fans are often found disoriented miles from the Superdome days after the game.  The Patriot fan base, largely of Irish extraction,  often equivocates over whether to get drunk and fight or to fight and get drunk.  It's the conundrum of the Olde Sod.  Arizona Cardinals fans have a legitimate excuse for excess consumption considering that, as denizens of the desert, they are merely attempting to stay hydrated.

Calling Indianapolis home negates the need for Colts fans to explain.

A major puzzlement, at least to me, is the relatively low degree of inebriation demonstrated by the 49'r fans.  Forget their horrible football team, San Francisco still deals with the stereo stigma of Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer representing Baghdad-by-the-Bay.  'Nuf said.

Buffalo Bills fans?  Have you been to Buffalo?

 New York Giants and Jets fans suffer not only from crappy team syndrome but also must endure high taxes and the dumbest mayor in the entire Eastern time zone.  Crumbling infrastructure anyone?

And...why oh why, wouldn't the Redskin fan base be knee walking drunk 24/7?  Sure the team is pretty good this year, but when you're knee deep in political poltroons?   Come on!

Bartender, set 'em up!
Beered up Buffalo beefcake

Friday, November 9, 2018

Earn This

 I'm lucky.  It has been nearly fifty years since I wore an Army uniform.  The draft was still with us in those days and military service was considered a right of passage for most young men. The war in Vietnam had the country's draft boards churning out 1-A classifications by the thousands in the 1960's and '70's.  In the summer of 1971 I found myself stationed at Fort Gordon, Georgia with just a couple of weeks left of signal officer training before orders dictated that my duffel bag and I were set for an "unaccompanied twelve month tour in Southeast Asia."  When you're that young and hopelessly naive it's easy to feel as if nothing can harm you or interfere with the always large plans you have for the future.  I was ready to go, certain that the war was something to get out of the way before returning home and a resumption of my life as a radio Gypsy.

All of us were clueless regarding why we had been ordered to a noon meeting that hot August afternoon but the sense that something was up had us all buzzing.  There were officers from the Pentagon on the stage of the auditorium standing next to piles of what turned out to be orders.  New orders, our orders.  After putting us at ease a major said, "Congratulations men, you are the first class from this school to NOT be going to Vietnam."  As part of President Nixon's plan to wind down the war he was ordering the First Infantry Division and the 82nd Airborne Division home from Southeast Asia.  It was a ruse of sorts considering that the only troops from those two outfits actually returning to America were the men from headquarters company.  The remainder of both divisions would be shifted to other units still in Vietnam while the 1st and the 82nd would be fleshed out stateside by those of us at Fort Gordon.  In hindsight  I now realize this was probably one of the luckiest days of my life.  I would spend the next couple of years with the Big Red One (1st Infantry' Division) playing war games and training for European NATO defense on the frozen and dusty plains of Fort Riley, Kansas.  Nobody would be trying to blow me up or shoot me.  If I could just dodge the Kansas cow flop, I would live to comb gray hair.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about those Army days and the shared experience of serving with men (no women in those days) whom I came to think of as family.  I guess it's the "all for one and one for all" atmosphere of military service that makes it hard to forget.   Also, nothing has made me more happy and proud than to see the new found respect for our service members that is now so pervasive.  There were no "thank you for your service" greetings during Vietnam war era.  Just wearing the uniform in public invited dirty looks and "baby killer" insults.  If you remember those days you are no doubt happy to note the about face.

Sitting by the fire on a cold day in northern Idaho with Veterans' Day and the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I approaching, it is with a grateful heart that I think of all the men and women who weren't as lucky as I.  It is beyond humbling to consider the price paid by the thousands who bore the heavy lift of battle only to be come home in a box or forever changed.  We, as citizens of this still free nation, can never sufficiently thank them.  It simply isn't possible.  We can, however, strive to live our lives in ways that are mindful of the ante paid by so few.  As he lay dying In the movie Saving Private Ryan, the captain, played by Tom Hanks, says to one of his men, "earn this."  He is referring to the freedom from the tyranny of the Nazis that will be the reward of an Allied victory.  Though he won't be going home he wants others to live their lives in appreciation of the sacrifice of the dead and dying.  It's an unforgettable scene and perhaps the perfect admonition to all of us living in this wonderful and still free country.  Let's earn it.

Veterans' Day 2018

Never forget.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Halloween and Other Stuff I Don't Understand

Several years ago I began to notice that I had practically zero recognition of the weird looking people featured on the cover of People Magazine.  Mind you I don't subscribe but merely glance at it while waiting in line at the grocery store to cough up way more scratch than I did a few years ago--okay 40-- for a couple of piddly items. (Just when did a box of Coco Puffs start costing five bucks?)  Do folks still subscribe to People?  Instead of these tattooed no names, how about a profile or three on stars like Jackie Gleason, Paul Newman, Liz Taylor or Bogey?  Oh really.  When?  
Am I getting old?

This looks too hard.
A senior jack o' lantern
I got home around 8 PM on Halloween, just in time for a few of the little candy pirates to accost me, and in a flash I came to the realization that the People Magazine conundrum has now manifested itself in kids' costumes.  Whatever happened to small fry in search of treats dressing up like Snow White, Bugs Bunny or, for the creatively challenged, a ghost?  Now the pint sized hoodlums show up as sci-fi oddballs or pop culture icons haunting me from the cover of People Magazine. It's a vicious circle!  It doesn't pay to ask a kid "who are you?", especially when it prompts an unrecognizable name or fictional character accompanied with a smug impatient look of annoyance.  "Well, you're a good one!", is about the best I can do.  

I saw no political masks this year which is probably for the best.  Likewise, no cowboys, cops, fire fighters or soldiers were on the march in my neighborhood.  In the 1950's Halloweens of my youth it seemed as if every other kid was either Roy, Dale, Zorro or, for the very cool, HOPALONG CASSIDY.

And, whether it had anything to do with Halloween or not, a few days ago six thousand of our U.S. soldiers on a NATO military exercise in Iceland pulled off a neat trick.  These military boys and girls  managed to suck down the entire supply of beer in the city of Reykjavik in just four days.  I don't know about you but that kind of American "can do" spirit leads me to believe that our young people are still capable of great things.  Reports of the troops inquiring about the whereabouts of Iceland's whiskey supply can't be confirmed, but I would like to think they asked.

Now, get your credit cards out.  There are 51 shopping days until Christmas and you know how you like to procrastinate.  If you decided to just go with cash this year, remember I'm an extra large.

Ah, capitalism!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Give Me Liberty and Maybe a Ding Dong; Never Chard

 "How about Fruity Pebbles?"
"Sugar Pops?"
"Watermelon, that's a fruit."
"Nothing with seeds!  How many times have we been over this??"

The blonde woman who has lately expressed an interest in keeping me healthy has categorically  diagnosed this scribe as just one more victim of Dunlop's disease, a hideous malady that preys on men of a certain age.  It presents  slowly and often is only discovered when adipose tissue orbiting a gentleman's equator breeches the ramparts of his britches causing his belly to "done lop" over his belt.  Frankly I can live with the affliction since it affords me a very nice snack tray that proves nearly indispensable during periods of extended World Series viewing.  Fritos, Doritos, and other essentials are right there just south of my nose and ready for loading into my eager and gaping maw.  Couple that with a Red Sox win over the arrogant and ever hideous Dodgers and I can die happy.

It's that dying thing that has Blondie in a dither.  Having recently converted to the diet prescribed by Dr. Steven R. Gundry in his book, The Plant Paradox, she is convinced that my increasing girth can be blamed on a weakness for food and beverages that actually taste good.  In his book, Dr. Gundry concludes that most of us are fat because we eat foods containing gluten and lectins, which coincidentally, are, it seems to me, the major delivery agents of all that is delicious and savory. You know you're in food prison when it's okay to eat a tomato, but only if it's peeled.  This guy is a menace.  I feel like calling the good doctor and hipping him to the fact that being THIN IS WHERE IT HAS BEEN whereas these days being FAT IS WHERE IT'S AT.  Have some beer and pretzels or maybe some pork rinds sawbones and live a little.

Pray for me as dinner time approaches in the Pacific time zone.  Looks like it's kale or Swiss chard or perhaps some hemp hearts on the menu tonight.  Luckily there's just enough time to nip out to the garage for an inventory of my forbidden foodstuffs stash.  A few Fritos and maybe a Ho Ho or Ding Dong should sustain me long enough to fake it through the gastronomic equivalent of an IRS audit or colonoscopy.  Right?

On Monday maybe I'll shop for new pants.  I'm thinking something in a "relaxed fit" this time.
Chard: approach with caution

Friday, October 19, 2018

A Beer Too Far!

Unable to scare the bejesus out of all of us with tales of rising seas and temperatures a couple of degrees warmer, the global "sky is falling" crowd now postulates that there is a very real danger of a worldwide beer shortage.  Holy climate change Batman!!

According to the University of California, Irvine's Nathan Mueller, "future climate and pricing conditions could put beer out of reach for hundreds of millions of people around the world."  "While the effects on beer may seem modest in comparison to many of the other impacts of climate change, there is nonetheless something fundamental in the cross-cultural appreciation of beer," reports lead author of this horrific report, Dabo Guan of the University of East Anglia, the Harvard of, uh, nowhere.  Computer models, (we know those are NEVER wrong) predict that the possible effects of climate change on the supply of barley could cause beer price increases of 338 percent by 2099.  Oh no!  Of course these are the same researchers with computer models that can't tell us if we need an umbrella this weekend.  So, now every middle-aged guy sporting a substantial Milwaukee goiter is supposed to be quaking in his boots at the thought of high priced and scarce suds?  Hardly.  The climate of our Big Blue Marble has been changing since time began and, in case you haven't noticed, tropical plants no longer grow at the North Pole and there are deserts where inland seas used to be.  Everybody needs to calm down and maybe have a beer or two while it's still possible and let the egg heads who are angling for more research grants (see money) sweat the small stuff.

Global warming?  Frankly, I've been a little chilly since moving to the wilds of North Idaho.  It would be dandy to lose the sweaters, a parka or two, and maybe grow a little barley around here instead of moose munch and huckleberries.  I'm thinking that a banana tree or two would be a nice addition to the southeast corner of the patio and maybe a switch to white wine is in order.

Excuse me while I turn up the air conditioning.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Seemed Like A Good the time

Two wacky Brits
Who among us has not awakened after a night of abandon with a cotton mouth and a very real sense of having done something unbelievably stupid and embarrassing while under the affluence of inkohol?  Whether it's the recollection of having insulted somebody important, losing the car or maybe even misplacing a pair of pants in a location now beyond recollection, the damage is done and it's time to either relocate or assume a new identity.  Haven't done that?  Perhaps you've stumbled on to the wrong blog.  If you CAN relate, I would like to offer you a saga about a couple who's embarrassing alcohol induced gaff will put your worst escapade in the shade.

Gina Lyons and Mark Lee, a couple of wacky Brits from London, got so drunk on their honeymoon that they purchased an entire hotel.  Granted it was a dump located in backwater in Sri Lanka but you have to admire their chutzpah.  After downing 12 glasses of rum they discovered that the lease on their honeymoon hideout was almost up and, after finding out it was only $13,200 per year, they thought "what the hell, we might as well buy it".  The couple was so buzzed during negotiations that they didn't even notice that the conversation was in a foreign language.  They just kept drinking.  The next day, now sober, they began to panic about what they had done and attempted to get out of the deal but couldn't.  So, they decided to turn a dumb ass drunken move into something positive and shortly began $8000 worth of renovations.  The newly named Lucky Beach Tangalle opened this past July and business is booming.  They also have a child on the way and have vowed to henceforth only make big decisions while sober.

I love a happy ending.  By the way, if you need me, I'm closing on a deal to buy this really cool bridge in Brooklyn.
All mine in just a thousand more payments!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Remembering Denny

When I saw the message was from his daughter, Lisa, I knew it couldn't be good news.  Denny turned 93 in August and when you're that age and fighting a rematch with cancer the odds are against you.  Denny Krick died peacefully last Saturday at his home in Arlington, Washington another in that long line of members of the Greatest Generation who are leaving the planet by the thousands.  We are poorer as a nation for their absence.

I have known Denny for several years and can't remember a single time he didn't make me smile.  We met at a Carlsbad, California gym ten or fifteen years ago where we often found ourselves side by side riding those bikes to nowhere.  The fact that his regimen kept him slim and in full command of his faculties inspired me to do the same.  He looked to be on his way to 100 and that seemed like a good example to emulate.  I found him to be a great conversationalist and, though we often differed on politics, we became friends.  

Like my father, Denny was a Navy veteran of the Second World War who served in the South Pacific theater.  After his service hitch he settled in San Diego with his wife, Virginia, where they raised two children and enjoyed life in a booming post war California.  Virginia passed away several years ago and Denny kept her memory alive by sponsoring a bench (Virginia's Bench) above Moonlight Beach in Encinitas where he would often enjoy a Pacific sunset.

Five years ago my late wife and I planned a trip with Denny and another pal, Roger O'Neil, to visit the World War II Museum in New Orleans.  It was an unforgettable honor to visit this wonderful national treasure with a WW II veteran in tow as the museum rolls out the red carpet whenever a vet visits.  Of course Denny was a big hit!  He talked to visiting school children and adults who peppered him with questions about his time in the service.  Especially touching was his quiet conversation with a young girl who's great grandfather had never returned from the war in the Pacific.  More than a few of us had a tear in our eye as he talked of the sacrifices of her great grandfather and so many others. 

When driving became an issue for him Denny decided to leave California and move north where he could be comfortable living in a house he had built behind the home of his daughter and her husband.  He was doing well until recently when a cancer he had battled to a draw a few years ago returned with a vengeance.  True to his generational code there was no mention of this when I had a long conversation with him on the phone a month ago.  He sounded fine and seemed in good spirits though I now realize it was just Denny not wanting to share setbacks or problems with me or anyone.  He was a kind,  considerate and truly gentle man to the end.

As I write this it's sad to reflect on the fact that we don't seem to be making men like Denny anymore.  Whether the cause is a lack of good parenting or an absence of ambition and moral courage, we have most certainly become soft and short sighted when compared to the men and women who took on the twin challenges of a depression and a world war.  Maybe we'll never be that good again as a nation, though I know we certainly need to try.

I'm not sad because Denny is no longer here.  I, and his many friends, are, without question,  eternally grateful that he was in our lives.  No doubt he will dwell in our hearts forever.
Denny at the World War II Museum

Chatting with the daughter of a WW II veteran.
Denny always had time for the kids and their questions.

Denny with my grandson, Dan.

Denny on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.  There's nothing like an old sailor on liberty.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Becoming Grandpa

My parents story is a sweet one.  They grew up in the very small town of New Holland, Illinois in the hard scrabble 1920's and 30's.  By small town I mean a community of around 200 in the heart of the black earth farm country of central Illinois.  They lived a block apart but because of a three year age difference did not really discover each other until both were out of high school and World War II was a fact of life.  Dad was a young Navy pilot and mom a rural school teacher when they fell in love and got married.

Every summer my mom, dad, brother and I would spend at least one week of dad's vacation in New Holland visiting both sets of grandparents and assorted aunts, funny uncles and cousins.  My maternal grandfather died when I was only eight but Grandpa Copper, a very relaxed fellow indeed, stuck around until I was well past my 28th birthday.  He was a major character in what, to my young eye, appeared to be one of the requirements of living there.  

As a grade school aged kid I would often accompany Grandpa on his daily rounds.  He was what most folks would call retired but that didn't stop him from having a routine that managed to fill most of his days.  He dressed for it too.  Every morning he would put on a suit, tie and fedora before walking to the small New Holland post office to get his mail.  His first stop was always the front porch of his pal Floyd Wendell.  Floyd, like Grandpa, was a gentleman farmer who had long ago left the grind of crops and cattle for life in town.  After remarking on how much I had grown and how much I resembled either my father or my mother, the two would talk of grain prices and the weather.  A stop at Virgil Crumpler's gas station was next; the same topics of conversation were on the menu along with complaints about the price of gas.  I was always amazed at Virgil's ability to keep a plug of tobacco in his head in spite of having a single digit compliment of teeth.  No Grandpa round was complete without a stop at the one and only grocery store in town owned by Wilbur Buce.  There was usually a list of items written in Grandma's hand that needed to be secured and "put on account" before we headed home in time for Grandma's scolding about forgotten items .  The bank, my Uncle Louie's S&L Lunch/Bar, and finally the post office rounded out the obligatory daily stops.  We were most always back at the house in time for lunch and a gander at the farm markets report on Peoria television before it was time for Grandpa to tune in a ballgame so he could "rest his eyes".  Day over.  Mission accomplished. ZZZZZZ

What started me thinking of Grandpa and his ever so busy days was the recent realization that I too have begun to fall into a similar anticipated  pattern of behavior.  It's not quite as predictable  but give me time, I'm only 70.  Grandpa was still a man about town into his late 80's and early 90's.

Here in North Idaho, in an effort to slug away at my "10,000 steps a day" regimen, I often start with a stroll through the park where a chat with Paul the squirrel guy is always entertaining and enlightening.  "Pauly Walnuts" is a former New Jerseyite who knows more about squirrels than anyone should.  He treats the little fuzz balls of the park to hazel nuts, red oak acorns, chestnuts and other exotic seeds.  It's fun to see how smart the little clowns are.  Paul and his wife, Donna, have names for most all of them and I've witnessed how the squirrel kingdom recognizes their car when they arrive each morning.  I don't want to be around if they ever miss a day.

The post office is usually my next stop as there is, in spite of email, often something that must be dropped in a mail shoot.  After that I often chat with Walt, a fisherman who never misses a day of angling.  Every morning I watch as he pulls in bass, pike and assorted pan fish while his mouth grips an ever present corncob pipe.  In the four years I've been here I've learned of his life in the Coast Guard, his failed marriages, battle with the bottle and his career as a country singer in dive bars from California to Idaho. He's a very nice man who gives away most all of his daily catch to neighbors and people in need.    

After my Walt stop it's time to head home through the park where Griff, Mark and some of the other maintenance men and women make our city park one of the prettiest in the nation.  Sometimes they have time to share some gossip of happenings not usually seen in a public park.  For example a recent incident regarding a couple and their bucket list of love was topic A.  Perhaps we'll save that for another post.  Yep, no time for that now.  It's nearly 4:30 and I don't want to miss the early bird specials at either I Hop or Denny's.  I think I'm fitting into this curmudgeon thing rather nicely.
Walt reeling in another one.

Friday, September 21, 2018

What's The Matter With Kids Today?

Recently, while traveling along the coast of Maine,  a blonde lady of my acquaintance and I spied a collection of old cars for sale just off US 1.  Naturally we had to stop and admire the plethora of rolling rust buckets because cars, especially the old ones, are FUN.  

"If you want this one, I'll throw in the hubcap Christmas tree too."
Having clocked my "three score and ten" this year I am assuredly a card carrying Boomer with an unbridled interest in pretty much any set of wheels propelled by an internal combustion engine.  My fair haired companion, though several years younger, also sports genuine Boomer credentials.   To we kids of the 50's and 60's a car was an iron clad projection of independence and freedom not to mention a ready getaway from parental supervision.  We blasted our tunes, raced with pals and steamed up the windows of our rides at drive-in movie theaters and countless closely guarded and parent free lover's lanes.  

Should have bought this one!  Great for the drive in.
How about a show of hands from those of you who counted the days until your 15th birthday and a trip to the DMV for your learner's permit?  That accomplished, the next 365 days of anticipating Sweet Sixteen and an actual driver's license comprised, if memory serves, the longest year in history.  (Maybe those years in the Army? )  The written part of the driver's test was a snap.  Most of us studied for it longer and with more vigor and devotion than we ever gave algebra or geometry.  Who needed those??!!  Nope, an eye on the prize at all times.  We would not be denied!

Flash forward to the present and......WHAT??  Millennials and their younger brothers and sisters of Generation Z are showing a marked indifference to cars both new and old.  Most seem not to care about automobiles whether gas powered or of the plug in variety.  Huh?  How do they get away from their parental wardens?  Where do they go to make out?  Do they call Uber or Lyft?  These are legitimate questions that beg for answers.  America is a country built for fast cars and adventure and I fear we may be losing our edge.

Come on kids, wake up and smell the gasoline!  Your country needs you.
By the way, if you need me, I'll be in the garage buckled into the bucket seat of my now "nearly" classic convertible smelling its still warm engine as I recall 1964, car keys, new freedom and nothing but an open highway to adult good times in the windshield.

Let's ride!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Brass Monkey Alert!

Forty-four degrees in September??!!
I woke to a chilly reminder of the real possibility of Fall a couple of mornings ago and didn't care for it at all.  The ninth month is usually our nicest here in the Inland Northwest.  Eastern Washington, the Idaho panhandle and western Montana generally have lots of sunshine with highs in the 70's accompanied by night temps in the 50's.  Perfect.

So far this year brought us a cool and wet June followed by a pretty decent July and August, though we did have some forest fire smoke during the latter.  Now, with September half shot, there is the very real temptation to abandon all hope of a mild winter.  The signs are everywhere: brisk temperatures, trees turning crimson and gold around the edges of the lake, fat squirrels and the hours of daylight diminishing faster than a bag of Cheetos at fat camp. 

Being a mere "senior" white male, nature's most endangered species, I thought it a good idea to arm myself with expert weather knowledge to prepare for the coming cold season.  I donned a sweater and made for the Coeur D Alene city park to be amongst my little squirrel pals.  ( I often bring them peanuts, so they owe me.)

In no time I was surrounded by some of the park's real heavyweights, and I do mean HEAVYWEIGHTS.  Fat Sal, Stinky and Roberta comprised the committee chosen to speak with me and here is the gist of that conversation as best I can recall.  (They may have slipped me something in the that funny looking acorn.)

Me: "So what's the deal, guys? How come the cold weather?"

Fat Sal: "So who wants to know?"

Me:  "Ah, nobody.  I'm just asking for a friend."

Sal:  "Well tell your friend to get ready for a rough winter.  This baby is gonna be so cold you'll be farting snowflakes in July."

Me: "Sounds like air conditioning. Is that why all of you are so freaking fat?"

Roberta:  "I'd take a good look at that spare tire you're sporting Sparky before insinuating that maybe we could stand to lose a couple."

Fat Sal, squirrel cappo
Me: "Point taken."

Stinky:  "Yeah, we think it's gonna be a cold one, colder than January in Moose Munch, Maine. That's why we've pumped up the fun fat and grabbed our furs out of storage.  Of course we're still too damn dumb to remember where we stashed all the nuts.  Where is that Kreskin guy when you need him?"

Roberta:  "This winter is gonna be harder than grandma's biscuits."

Me:  "Okay, I get it.  Time to nut up and get ready for an icy blast up our skirts in a few short weeks."


Fat Sal:  "Yeah, that's what we've been sayin'. By the wouldn't be lookin' for some candy ass warm spot where you can hang for next couple of months would ya?"

Me:  "Fake news!" 

Friday, September 7, 2018

So Long NFL

The ratings are in on the first NFL game of the season and the owners should be worried.  Philadelphia's 18-12 victory over visiting Atlanta earned all time low television ratings and, I believe portends rough seas ahead for the tone deaf management of the league.  While they dither fans are making up their minds and many, like me, are choosing to look elsewhere for entertainment.
No more wasted Sunday afternoons.  I never watched the weekday games, so no great loss there.  College football should be a sufficient pigskin fix for me from this point on. Baseball, with the anthem AND "God Bless America" will soon be in playoff and World Series mode making any pro football withdrawal easily palatable .  Who needs the disrespect of a bunch of millionaire meat heads? 

Oh, I get the "free speech" argument the D minus  Parks & Recreation majors of the gridiron offer as their reason for kneeling during our national anthem, however flawed their execution of the message.  Better men and women than they sacrificed their lives for them to say and do whatever they please.
Most of us, if we have a beef, can take our message to the street or commit it to paper (or a blog) anytime, anywhere, however few are afforded the opportunity to do it on company time.  If these athletes are so certain of the statement they wish to make, why not hold rallies after the game or write Op/Ed pieces for newspapers?  Why must they dishonor our nation and the sacrifice of so many men and women and their families who have served unselfishly to keep us safe and free?  Sadly, I feel that the few in the NFL who choose to take a knee rather than stand respectfully during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner have given little or no consideration to the consequences of their actions.

Even more despicable than this tantrum of the gifted yet foolish few is the decision of the Nike company to capitalize on the faux bravery of the simpleton, Colin Kaepernick, who began this ill considered gambit.  Shame on them.  They are no longer in the shoe business, having forsaken it, with their Kaepernick advertising campaign, for the business of seeking attention.

No more Nikes for me! They hurt my feet when I stand for the anthem.  

Friday, August 31, 2018

A Maine Excursion

When you're really hungry in Maine, go for the JUMBO lobster
Since I was scheduled to be in New Hampshire for my buddy's The Skipper, annual  wienie roast and fly-in, it seemed a good idea to spend a few extra days scrutinizing the coast of Maine.  I hadn't been Down East for at least ten years and it was time to get reacquainted with the beauty of the "lobstah" capital of the world.  There is no place like it.  It was also a perfect excuse to drop in on old pal Randy Jeffery and his wife Kim who, if you read my last post, are spending the summer on their boat in Boothbay Harbor.

The weather was warm and refreshingly smoke free, a welcome relief when compared to the vaporous smolder of the pacific northwest.  Periwinkle blue skies were the order of the day and Randy was ready to take us for a boat ride for a look at Maine from the water.  It was spectacular.
"Dutch", the boat Randy and Kim call home for a few weeks every summer, is an ideal vessel for sightseeing as it's big enough for comfort yet agile enough to navigate Maine's many small islands and harbors.

An unforgettable day!

A sailboat off our stern as we leave the harbor

Blond dog whisperer lady with Lacey the 2nd mate.


The good captain on the bridge

Kim securing the lines

Randy heading us out to sea

It's always good to have a spare boat on the stern.
2nd Mate barking at me for poor seamanship