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Just Curious

April 3, 2013

Just curious if anyone is still following this blog. Check out more of my stuff at


Back To Blogger

July 20, 2012

WordPress has become too slow. I’m back on Blogger. Check it out at

Back To Blogger

July 20, 2012

WordPress has become too slow. I’m back on Blogger. Check it out at

Making A Spectacle Of Myself

July 13, 2012

Being an eyeglasses-wearer since the fourth grade, I think it’s high time somebody filed a class-action lawsuit against Hollywood for the stigma that has been placed on the four-eyed general public.

I’ve watched a lot of television in my day (which is probably one of the reasons I was wearing glasses in the fourth grade), and I consider myself a leading authority when it comes to television industry’s hatred of my people. The unfair, nerdy treatment of the glasses-wearing American public has gone on long enough. We, the near- and far-sighted have stared blindly into the face of this prejudice (pun intended), and I, for one, am tired of it. It’s time to push our glasses up our nose and point out these injustices.

As I think back to those wonderful days of my bespectacled youth, I can only recall a handful of television characters who wore glasses. On the other hand, here is a partial list of television characters that I grew up with that did not wear glasses: Gilligan, Skipper, the Professor, Thurston and Lovey Howell (although Lovey sometimes used those “glasses-on-a-stick” that evidently only the mega-wealthy use), Ginger, Mary-Ann, Wrongway Feldman, The Beaver, Wally, Ward, June, Eddie, Lumpy, Larry Mondello, Whitey, Gus the fireman, Andy, Barney, Opie, Goober, Gomer, Howard Sprague, Helen, Thelma Lou, Otis, Ernest T. Bass, Laverne, Shirley, Lenny, Squiggy, The Big Ragoo, Jed, Granny, Jethro, Elly May, Mr. Drysdale, Miss Hathaway, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Colonel Hogan, LeBeau, Newkirk, Carter, Kinch, Underdog, Sweet Polly Purebread, Oliver Wendell Douglas, Lisa, Eb, Mr. Haney, Fred Ziffel, Arnold Ziffel, James, Florida, J.J., Thelma, Michael, Willona, He-Man, Skeletor, Starsky, Hutch, Huggy Bear, Batman, Robin, Cat Woman, The Joker, The Riddler, King Tut, Egghead, Sergeant O’Rourke, Corporal Agarn and Captain Parmenter …

Hawkeye, Trapper John, Henry Blake, Hot Lips, Klinger, B.J. Hunnicut, Winchester, Frank Burns, Howard, Marion, Richie, Joanie, Fonzie (accept for the episode “A Sight for Sore Eyes” which appeared on February 24, 1976), Potsie, Ralph, Chachi, Pinky Tuscadero, Spike, Uncle Bill, Mr. French, Cissy, Buffy, Jody, Larry, Darryl, his other brother Darryl, Flip Wilson, Mr. Roarke, Tattoo, Tennessee Tuxedo, Chumley, Cliff, Clair, Sondra, Denise, Theo, Vanessa, Rudy, Colonel Steve Austin, Oscar Goldman, Gentle Ben, Bruce Banner, Babe Winkelman, Archie and Edith (most of the time,) Meathead, Gloria, Ben (a different Ben,) Adam, Hoss, Little Joe, John Gage, Roy DeSoto, Jerry, Elaine, Kramer, Marlin Perkins, Jim, Bo, Luke, Daisy, Uncle Jesse, Boss Hogg, Roscoe, Enos, Cooter, Flash, Gumby, Pokey, Wally Gator, Miss Peggy, Grizzly Adams, Mad Jack and Ben (a different Ben) …

Baretta, Fred, Captain Stubing, Isaac, Gopher, Julie, Mannix, B.J., The Bear, Herman, Lily, Eddie, Marilyn, Grandpa, Lassie, Lucy, Ricky, Ethel, Fred (a different Fred), Ponch, John, MacGyver, Mr. Magoo, Ralph, Alice, Ed, Trixie, George, Weezy, Lionel, Florence, Fred (a different Fred), Daphne, Shaggy, Scooby-Doo, Felix, Oscar, Kelly, Kris, Sabrina, Bosley, Mac Davis, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Wonder Twins, Ann, Barbara, Julie, Schneider, Mr. Green Jeans, Dwayne, Dee, Rerun, Shirley, Mama, Bugs, Daffy, Sylvester, Tweety, Yosemite Sam, Speedy Gonzalez, the baby kangaroo, Magnum, Higgins, T.C., Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie, Mr. Burns, Santa’s Little Helper, Hannibal, Murdock, B.A., Templeton Peck, Isis, Mike, Carol, Alice, Sam, Greg, Marcia, Peter, Bobby, Cindy, Tiger, Captain Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, Chekov, Alice, Flo, Vera, Mel Sharples and Alf.

Now, here is a listing of how my people have been represented on television in all their blurry-visioned glory:

Jan Brady – Jan started out as lovable daughter with great eyesight. All of the sudden Eve Plumb fails an eye exam, and alter-ego Jan goes crazy. She becomes the weirdo sister and starts blabbering “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” all the time.

Cousin Oliver – While we’re on the topic of the Brady Bunch, what was up with little Cousin Oliver? He looked like a miniature version of John Denver. I feel that he only appeared in a desperate attempt to make Bobby look cool, which personally, I don’t believed worked.

Brainy Smurf – Sure he might have been smart (even though that’s debatable), but I’ll bet that Smurfette wouldn’t date him.

Colonel Klink – Technically, he didn’t wear glasses. He had a monocle. Just like Mr. Peanut. And oh yeah, I about forgot – he was also an idiot. If you cannot see the microphone in Hitler’s picture. maybe you should not be a colonel.

Velma Dinkley – Not only was Velma portrayed as the brainiac nerd on Scooby-Doo, but her glasses would have made her less than useless in any kind of legitimate ghost-hunting mission. Trust me – I speak from experience.

Dr. Adam Bricker – I believe that if a sickness would have broken out on the Promenade Deck of the Love Boat, all the passengers would have been doomed. Sorry Bernie Kopell, that’s just the way I see it.

Leonard Hofstadter, Bernadette Rostenkowski and Amy Farrah Fowler of The Big Bang Theory – All nerds.

Clark Kent – The nerd version of Superman.

Shoeshine Boy – The nerd version of Underdog.

Urkel – He was Urkel.

I hope that I have made my point. The treatment of the “poorly sighted” has gone on long enough in this great country. I believe that just because I wear glasses does not make me a nerd.

However, remembering all of these TV shows probably does.

On A Warm Summer’s Eve

July 6, 2012

On my way home from work the other night, I was debating in my mind what I was going to write about this week. There are all sorts of issues that “real” writers would consider such as the lasting effects of Obamacare, how the housing crisis is affecting the U.S. economy or maybe even something about the nuclear policies of Iran and North Korea.

But as I drove across the hot, dry plains of northern Illinois, in the steamy twilight, with yet another day forecast to have temperatures again in the upper 90s on the horizon, I knew what I needed to write about. Looking over my shoulder at corn stalks that were turning yellow, battered by the seemingly unending heat wave that we are currently in, I knew I had to write about the one one subject that has been affecting myself as well as many of the readers of this column – my deodorant just isn’t doing it for me anymore.

My armpits kind of had an aroma reminiscent to the monkey house at Brookfield Zoo. I was suffering from what I have referred to in the past as “funky, sweaty old man smell.” You know the smell. It’s how your grandpa used to smell after eight cups of coffee, a pack of Marlboros and a full day of fishing for carp in the hot sun using nightcrawlers for bait. Now that it affects me, I will refer to this lovely little bouquet as the fragrance of “manly experience.”

I’ve noticed this malady creeping up on me a few weeks back. After mowing the yard one particularly warm Saturday afternoon, I plopped down in my favorite chair to catch the ending to one of the episodes of “Storage Wars.” ( I just hate it when I don’t see the show from the beginning because I get lost trying to catch up with the plot line.) Well, as the bidders were going at it on the television, I started to catch a whiff of a peculiar scent permeating the air.

As I arose from my perch to investigate the source of this aromatic assault, I noticed how truly pungent it was. There was definitely a group of monkeys hiding somewhere in my house. There just had to be. It was the only logical explanation.

As I wandered from room to room, wholeheartedly expecting to find a group of chimpanzees or baboons eating body lice off of each other, I noticed that the stench didn’t seem to increase and/or decrease in general smelliness. It remained at a constant level – which was bad. It almost seemed as though it were following me.

I finally journeyed into the bathroom and came face to face with what was causing this odoriferous emergency. It was me!

As I peered into the reflective surface of the mirror, for a brief second, I swore that I could see those wavy stink lines that follow Pepé LePew as he prances through Warner Brothers cartoons. I had somehow become a funky old man right before my very eyes. I probably hadn’t been able to see it until then because of the fumes.

My current odor predicament is, without a doubt, entirely my wife’s fault. Within the last year or so, she has completely stopped buying bar soap and gone to the squeezy, transparent bottles of scented soaps. They look pretty sitting in the shower with all of their vibrant colors, but they just don’t do the job of a good old bar of soap. Something with pumice. Something abrasive that a guy can scrape layers of stinky epidermis off. Something that they would use in a shower at a nuclear plant like in the movie “Silkwood.” I basically need Meryl Streep soap.

So I now beg all of you who know my wife, plead with her to start getting real soap again. Something with enough grit in it to cause bodily injury. Something that if I get it in my eyes, I will cry, possibly containing lye. At the very least, something that will make me smell like an Irishman on a nice spring day. It’s in all of our best interests.

Until then, I’m just going to duct tape those little Christmas tree air fresheners to my armpits … And maybe get a monkey.

I Think I’m Turning Japanese

June 22, 2012

Does anybody else have any Popillia Japonica in their yard? That’s the scientific name for Japanese Beetles, those metallic-looking bugs that eat trees, flowers and gardens. I doubt if you have any because I think that they’re all out at my Mom and Dad’s farm.

This isn’t the first year that we’ve had trouble with these shiny pests. Last year they got pretty bad and just about killed our grape vines. So this year, we thought that we would combat the problem, and we bought one of those Japanese Beetle traps that you can find in most any large retail store. The trap is basically an open bag with a smelly thing that you attach above the opening. The bugs are attracted to the odor that the smelly things give off and fall into the bag to await their date with death.

(Before we go any farther with this, I should warn you that the story gets a little racy and explicit from here on out. You’ve been warned.)

I have read the secret to these traps has to do with the scent they give off. They utilize the Japanese Beetle’s own natural sex attractant. That’s right, the odor that makes these beetles want to, as Bob Eubanks of the Newlywed Game used to put it, make whoopee. I was apparently going to turn my parents’ lawn into a bug brothel.

We started to see a few of the nasty little creatures buzzing around some of the apple trees the other day, so we figured it was time to put the trap out. My wife, who tends to read directions (I’m mentioning this now because it will become an important part of the story later on), assembled the trap inside the air-conditioned comfort of my parents’ living room while watching “America’s Got Talent.” She told me where a good place to hang it would be (according to the directions), and I, being the devil-may-care, independent soul that I am, did exactly as I was told.

We then watched in horror as approximately 80 billion Japanese Beetles swarmed from every leaf, stem, twig and blade of grass from a three state area and descended upon the trap. We were kind of freaking out over how the sky had blackened as the multitude of insects flew over us. (I’m getting itchy just thinking about it.)

As the bag quickly filled with beetle carcasses, one thing became readily apparent – we needed more traps. My wife and I kind of felt like Butch and Sundance at the end of the movie when they were surrounded by the Bolivian army. We were definitely outnumbered. We proceeded to tell Dad that we were going to get some more traps and that I would come out and hang them up the next day.

I returned to the farm with two more boxes of traps in my possession. Since my wife wasn’t there to instruct us, Dad and I had to hang these things without the help of any adult supervision. We picked a couple of spots that we thought would be prime areas to trap the optimum amount of bugs (one by our raspberry and grape plants and one by the apple and plum trees), and I opened the boxes that held our instruments of insect whoopee terror.

I knelt down by the plum tree and tore open the cardboard box (why would anybody carefully open something when they have the option of completely obliterating it?). As I put the thing together and opened the little stinky thing that attracts the beetles, I realized that I really wasn’t sure on how it attached above the bag. I guess that I just figured that there was some kind of adhesive backing on it, but it turned out to be some sort “fit the tabs in the slots” configuration. As I looked at the pile of torn cardboard that used to be my instructions, I realized I was going to have to figure this one out on my own. (And on further reflection, I probably just could have read the directions on the second box that my Dad was holding.)

I had what, at the time, seemed like a great idea. I would just walk over to the trap my wife had put together the day before and witness how direction-readers put these things together. Problem solved.

Now we come to the moral of the story. It is never a good idea to stroll across a farm yard that is full of passionate Japanese Beetles carrying the little stinky thing that attracts Japanese Beetles. By the time I made it back to my unfinished trap, I literally had thousands upon thousands of the iridescent, copper-colored plague circling me. It was truly a harrowing experience.

Evidently, these stinky little lures are the equivalent of popping open a bottle of wine, lighting some candles and putting some Barry White on the stereo in the Japanese Beetle world. There was love in the air, and apparently I was the object of their affection. All five trillion of them.

As they undressed me with their little bug eyes, I got nervous. As they showered down upon me from all directions, I shunned their unwanted advances by swatting the air, rolling on the ground and screaming like a little girl. Meanwhile my Dad stood there giggling and saying, “That’ll teach you to write about me in one of your silly columns!”

Well it’s been a few days since the attack, and I’m trying to get back to a “normal” life. Most of those beetles that looked upon me with lust that day are now deceased. I guess their hormones just got the best of them. There’s nothing sadder than unrequited love.

When I think back to that fateful day, there is one question that I still ponder – I wonder when Dad will find that stinky lure that I duct-taped under the seat of his lawn mower?

The Bard of Greenville Township

June 15, 2012

My dad taught me how to swear. Not only did he teach me the correct pronunciation of the words, but he also taught me how to cuss with flair and panache. None of his lessons were intentional, but when you’re dealing with an eager young mind, learning is easy.

Now don’t misunderstand me. Dad is not a habitual curser. I have known some of those people in my lifetime. I know guys that can take a particular four-letter word and use it as an adjective, adverb and noun, consecutively, in the same sentence. He is not one of these people. Never has been; never will be.

In fact, my Dad is about as nice and easy-going of a guy as you’ll ever meet. He always looks for the good in people and will do just about anything for anybody. How, you may ask yourself, did the saintly man I just described, teach me how to talk like a salty sailor home on shore leave?

It wasn’t like he sat me down on his knee with Webster’s Dictionary and pointed out all the good stuff. Nope, it wasn’t like that at all. You see, my Dad raised pigs for a living. Big, dirty, stinky pigs. I would venture to say that 99.9 percent of the bad words I’ve ever heard him utter, came in the middle of a hog lot on a hot, humid day, surrounded by buzzing, biting flies and covered in pig dung.

I defy anyone to not swear when they’re working with hogs. I think Mother Teresa might have even let a few obscenities fly if she ever had to put a sow in a farrowing crate. For those of you who have never experienced the joy of trying to get a farm animal to move in the direction you would like it to go, boy are you missing some fun. Scientists say that pigs are relatively smart animals. Just because the French use you to sniff out truffles, does not make you a genius. For being so smart, scientists say some pretty dumb things.

I like to consider my father as Shakespeare of the hog lot. On the days when we would have to sort the hogs into different pens for various reasons, I would stand in anticipation of the upcoming verbal performance I was going to witness. I was the guy who would run the gate while Dad would try to get the right hogs to go in my direction. The show was ready to begin.

Just like an actor appearing on the stage of the Globe Theater, Dad would stand in the middle of the smelly hog lot determining which animal should go where. As the curtain went up and the first scene started, when he started moving the beasts, he would start out with your basic, everyday curse words that you might hear at any construction site or on prime-time television.

As the action intensified and the pigs became more belligerent, Dad’s vocabulary would begin to crescendo. The expletives could now be heard with a greater range of inflection and at a rapidly increasing cadence. He would put emphasis on different syllables of the profanity-laced tirade to add to the production. The pigs and I both squealed in anticipation of how the finale would play out.

On some days, when he really got going, Dad could make up dirty words on the fly. He would take beginnings of certain profanities and mish-mash them with the endings of others, and come up with this coagulation of naughtiness. Once the verbal flow started, it took on a life of its own. It became an art form to behold. There were many times that while I was supposed to be running the gate that I would get so caught up in Dad’s soliloquy, that I would inadvertently allow one of the vile creatures to get by me. I would usually shout my own cuss words at this point, but I just looked silly for I was but a mere amateur performing in the shadow of true greatness.

When everything was said and done and all the hogs were where they were supposed to be, Dad would be standing there, leaning on the gate, exasperated and trying to catch his breath after the performance he had just given. I always felt like I should give him a standing ovation or at least throw a bouquet of roses at his feet. I usually just hosed the poop off my boots.

I don’t know what Dad’s going to think when he reads this. He’ll probably ask why I didn’t tell everybody about all of the good stuff he’s taught me throughout my lifetime. Well, that would take just way too long, and quite honestly, wouldn’t be nearly as funny. Since he doesn’t raise pigs anymore, I should be safe from any cursing.

In honor of Dad, and since it is Father’s Day weekend, I’m thinking about having my folks over and making him and Mom something on the grill. Maybe I’ll cook them some !@#$%ing pork chops.