February 27, 2010


Last weekend I took a few minutes and Googled myself. I like to do this every once in a while to catch up on what I've been doing.  The answer is invariably "Not Much". There was the usual stuff about me working at the Naval Postgraduate School Department of Computer Science Room GE-110 1411 on Cunningham Road in Monterey, California.  And that I had developed a multicast performance test suite and played a key role in MCI's content distribution and video strategy.  Plus I had robbed a couple of banks and jewelry stores.  I know, it sounds like I have been really busy with some really fascinating things, but alas, these accomplishments belong to other people who merely share my name.

And it's just as well, since I value my privacy and don't want to be splashed all over Google for everyone to see. I heard somewhere that you're supposed to feel ashamed if you Google yourself, because it's supposedly the sin of pride, or some shit like that.  But I don't see anything wrong with it.

What I've never heard of is people facebooking themselves.  This seems like some sort of basic omission, because who wouldn't want to see what other people who share your name look like?  It is said for every person on the planet, there is a twin lurking about.  Whether or not this is true is subject for debate, but wouldn't it be very cool if you not only had a twin, but they had your name too?  So, in the wee hours of this morning, I typed my name into the "friends" tab in facebook, and much to my surprise, over 200 names appeared!  Let's see if any of them look like me.  You can compare them to my distinguished photo in the sidebar and judge for yourself.

Pleasant enough, but he's bald ... and crooked.

No.  I have eyelashes.

I think I saw him in the nightclub scene in "Scarface".

What the fuck?

Nope.  Not even close.



Closer ...

Wait for it ...

Almost there ...

Bingo!!  An exact match!

Okay ... maybe not.  I'll keep looking.

February 26, 2010

Out & Out Thievery

It's been a hard week sitting on my butt at work, organizing and reorganizing The Penske File.  So I'm kind of tired tonight.  I was all set to write another one of my deep thought provoking pieces, but saw something on another blog that reminded me of something that happened at the market earlier this week.  I fished a 20 out of my wallet to pay for a beef jerky, a Zero bar and a pack of Virginia Slims Menthol, when I noticed that someone had written on the bill "Mike Ditka's IQ", with an arrow pointed to the "20" up at the corner.  I thought someone must have either been incredibly bored or really hated Mike Ditka to deface good old U.S. currency in such a manner.  But then I ran across the following and realized that the guy who had scrawled on my bill was a rank amateur.

Yes, I'm ripping off someone else's blog, but they ripped it off from someone else, who probably ripped it off from someone else. And so on, and so on ...  BFD.

Tron-ist Abe

Boba Fett Washington

Georgie Makes An iPod Commercial

Mario Lincoln

Bazooka George

Alexander "Ninja" Hamilton

Mad Hatter George

Teenage Mutant Ninja Abraham

Andy "Kiss" Jackson

Abe Gets "Boothinized"

Quick now, how much money was represented above?  DON'T LOOK!  Did you guess 51 dollars?  Well, you're wrong ....

February 25, 2010

I Never See Anyone Famous

My cube neighbor and I were talking the other day at work, and somehow the subject of celebrity sightings came into the conversation.  She had been in a classroom in the Lake Forest high school where Robert Redford was shooting a few scenes from the movie "Ordinary People".  Bobby was taking a break and walked into her classroom and sat down for a few minutes, disrupting the teacher's lecture.  Fucking Hollywood assholes anyway ...

So, after gushing about that for a few minutes, she realized she was making a fool out of herself and asked me, ever so politely, if I had ever had any candid celebrity encounters.  And of course, leading the sheltered boring life I have, I couldn't think of any. Later, I made a conscious effort to remember if I actually had seen anyone famous in an everyday setting, but could only come up with a handful, with fingers to spare.

There were three.  Not a lot, but of course there are very interesting stories behind each one of these encounters, so prepare to be entertained.

Leslie, You Silver- White Maned Devil!

Leslie Nielsen.  I spied Leslie in a departure lounge at the Pittsburgh International Airport in the early 80's. He was an imposing figure with a fine mop of silver hair.  I nonchalantly breezed by him several times to make sure it was him, but didn't speak because he was surrounded by his goons.  He was wearing a silver Members Only jacket with "Naked Gun" embroidered on the back.  I was so impressed that I immediately ran to a pay phone to call Jan, who responded "That's nice dear ..."  I'm sure she was seething with jealousy though.

Mr. Cholesterol a.k.a. Jack Eagle.  Jack was the evil Mr. Cholesterol in the Fleischman Margarine commercials for all of you heathens who don't remember.  One day I was walking down the Allegheny Airlines concourse at the Pittsburgh International Airport (yes, I spent a lot of time at that fucking place for a few years) and spotted Mr. C walking toward me.  He effortlessly glided past me and I turned around to watch him waddle into the distance.  I immediately ran to a pay phone to call Jan, who responded "Who?"  I'm sure she was peeing her panties with envy though.

This Was As Close As I Could Get To A Picture Of Jack

Noreen.  Okay, so this one is a real stretch, I'll admit.  I grew up in the early days of television, and in my hometown of Springfield, Missouri, no one was a bigger celebrity on "the TV" than Noreen ... owner and spokesperson for the Plaza Shoe Store.  She was the epitome of style and class throughout the Ozarks, in fact anywhere within the broadcast range of KYTV.  Do you honestly think Cher was the first one to be known by only her first name?  Hell no!  It was Noreen.

Noreen And Her Famous Wolfman 'Do!

My mom and I traveled to the Plaza Shoe Store one day to get me a pair of Sunday Go To Meetin' shoes, when there behind the counter I spied Noreen herself!  I melted as she looked at my seven year old self and said in that twangy hillbilly voice "Hi y'all".  I immediately ran to a pay phone to call Jan, but suddenly remembered that I would not meet her for another 14 years.  But I imagine she would have been figuratively eaten alive by resentment if she had known.

A few notes on Noreen.  My Mom hated her for some reason and became particularly spiteful as the years went by and Noreen proved that you can't stay young forever, no matter if you are the Shoe Queen of the Ozarks.

Noreen ... Looking A Little Shopworn With The Latest Styles From 1967

You have to give her credit though, she was still rockin' the Larry Talbot look, even in her waning years.  As for me, I always liked her, especially at the tail end of her commercials when she would point at you out there in TVLand and say ...

Y'all come see me, y'hear?

February 24, 2010

Victim Of My Celebrity

Over the weekend, jammed in between cursing the damned snow that won't end and concentrating all the  powers of my mighty brain to willfully move time ahead to April, I came up with a couple of killer ideas for blog posts.

And just as I was about to lay fingers on the keyboard, I realized that all I would accomplish would be to offend people.  There was a time when this would have failed to stop me, but in the year or so that I've been doing this "blog thing", it's dawned on me that there are actually a few people who know the identity of the person behind the words.

In some ways this is "good".  In other ways, this is "bad".  Good because I've made friends and acquaintances that I otherwise wouldn't have had, and in interacting with them, have been entertained and learned a thing or two.  Bad, because I refrain from talking about certain things that would reveal me to be a closet asshat to those same people.

As Gentle Uncle Ben counseled young Peter Parker about his spidery endowment, "With great power comes great responsibility".  Only in my case, that would be toned down and the word "great" would be replaced with "not on the radar".

Still, it would be gratifying to just let loose and rip at someone or something without regard for the consequences once in a while. And to do this, I would have to become anonymous, kind of like "The Shadow" in the old timey radio days.

And this means I would have to start another blog for all of my rants.

Starting a blog is no problem.  There are so many auto-blog services out there that I could set up one in less than 5 minutes. But then I have to name it ... and pick a background ... and colors ... and a font ...and sidebar stuff ... and a cool anonymous name.

And let's face it, I'm just not that talented.  If I had worked in Detroit back in the 50's, someone else would have come up with the name "Corvette", and I would have chosen "Edsel".

But I think I can overcome these obstacles and actually have some ideas that might not be half-assed.  A cool bloggy title and a nifty bloggy name that will not only give me the anonimity that I need to tear the objects of my loathing a new butthole, but will ensure me instant readership.

I'm thinking ... The Huffington Post ... by Perez Hilton.

Catchy, huh?

February 21, 2010

Cut Bait & Run

Here in Northern Illinois, much has been said recently about the steady march of the Asian Carp towards Lake Michigan.  It is feared that once this trailer trash of the fish world reaches the Big M, it will spread to the other Great Lakes, the Erie Canal and to its final destination; Pooter's Pond in Puxwhoosits, Maine.

Uber-liberal environmental whiners claim that the carp will muscle in and destroy all indigenous aquatic life, such as the zebra mussel, and will flood the upper midwest and northeast with P. J. Changs and dry cleaners.  The last line of defense, the Chicago Ship & Sanitary canal has been poisoned, bombed and mined, with a total count of ZERO Asian Carp having been recovered.  The states of Michigan and Wisconsin have sued Illinois to close the locks on the CS&S, and Illinois has counter sued ... Michigan for producing crappy cherry wine, and Wisconsin for just being Wisconsin.

Granted, I wouldn't want these things moving in next door to me, primarily because they probably don't keep their lawns mowed, and they're not very attractive.

Butt Ugly

However, there is something much worse than the Asian Carp out there, lurking in the deep waters just off the coast of Tasmania.

Psychrolutes marcidus, a.k.a. the Blobfish floats just above the ocean floor.  This boneless gelatinous pile of gloop sloshes about, sucking in anything remotely resembling food into it's rubbery slash of a mouth.

The Stuff Of Nightmares!

Although top ichthyologists from around the world pooh-pooh the notion of this mini-monster ever migrating from it's present locale to roam among us, we all know that stranger things have happened.  The Irish, for example.

It would be simple.  I present, for your approval, the following scenario:  A trawler plying the Tasmanian coast for delicious Long John Silvers fish fillets scoops up Blobby on one of its runs.  One of the swabbos on deck takes a shine to this thing, perhaps thinking that it resembles his Uncle Omar, and transports it home to his aquarium.   Several months later, Blobby gets bored and flips himself out of the tank.  He oozes across the floor, opens the front door and squishes down the street to a nearby creek, where he splashes in ... and enters the water supply for YOUR town!

Imagine if you will, getting up at 2 a.m. to take a pee.  You're at you most vulnerable state as Blobby appears through the hellish portal at the bottom of your toilet and crawls up the side.  Closer .... closer ...

Or maybe you're just thirsty.  In the dark, you take your glass from the side of the bathroom sink and turn on the tap.  Blobby with his boneless, slimy body gushes from the spigot and fills your glass. You raise it to your lips ... and he fills your mouth with gooey gagging horror ...

In the case of the Asian Carp, some people are advocating eating it into submission.  Deranged chefs have concocted recipes for carp soup, carp casserole and sausage McMuffin with carp.

But how would one prepare Psychrolutes marcidus?  Deep fry it in transfatty oil?  Almost anything tastes good deep fried.  Perhaps as a substitute for that Thanksgiving jello mold?  Just plop him on a plate and give me a spoon.

Hold the mini-marshmallows and mandarin orange slices.

February 17, 2010

Story Time

I ran across a story on-line several months ago and bookmarked it for later reading.  Last Sunday I had everything around the house pretty well caught up and as I was going down the bookmarks list on my computer, I happened to see it lurking at the bottom.

At first glance, it appeared to be another one of those "stupid people do stupid things with predictably tragic consequences" stories, and since something similar had been all over the news fairly recently, I was just going to delete it.

But I decided to read it through.  It certainly isn't funny, and you know what happened right from the first paragraph, but how it happened surprised me.

As you mature, you realize that people do things that, to you, are bizarre beyond belief.  But you begin to learn that you really can't judge them, because their actions seemed perfectly sane and reasonable to them.

It's not a long story.  It will take you about 20 minutes to read through.

This is an article from the April 2009 issue of Esquire magazine. The Worst Story I Ever Heard.

February 14, 2010


As we begin to ease into the idea of retirement, Jan and I are starting to discuss how we want to live out our golden years. Probably the biggest consideration facing us is where to live. Do we want to stay where we are, or do we want to start out fresh someplace else?  And as time passes, "someplace else" is looking better and better to us.

One of the areas that we're seriously considering is southwest Missouri, where I was born and raised.  Jan's home base is St. Louis, but she attended college in my hometown, Springfield.  So we're both familiar with the region.

When I left Springfield in 1974, I was fairly certain that I'd never return to live.  But things change, and maybe it's true that home always lures you back in the end.  In the 36 years since leaving, I've not paid a lot of attention to what was going on in the Ozarks. Chats with my mom and occasional visits back are all that I've had to give me any semblance at all about what has been happening there.  But lately, I've been reading the local paper and doing other research to bring me up to speed.

It was during one of these searches that I found out what had happened to Heers.

Heers ... circa 1916

Heers (pronounced "hers") was the department store in Springfield.  Of course, there were Kresge's and Woolworths, but Heers was the big shopping mecca.  It was the one with the latest fashions, the newest household appliances and the best toy department.

During the years before I started what passed for kindergarten and the arrival of my sisters, mom and I would walk to the bus stop on Glenstone Avenue and ride downtown to the Square for a day of shopping. We'd browse the small shops, have lunch at the counter at Kresge's and then head for Heers.  We'd ride the elevator up and down, the operator calling out the floors and features, and would usually buy a thing or two before I became tired and cranky, and we headed home again.

Heers was the first building in the city with an escalator, and it was after my first escalator ride to the mezzanine and peering out over the wall to the first floor below that I realized that I had a paralyzing fear of heights.

The Heers Of My Youth ... 1950's

In my teens, the entire downtown area started to go to hell and Heers fell from popularity, a victim of the developing malls in the outlying areas.  The city spent millions closing off the Square to traffic and rechristened it "Park Central Square", although no parks were within walking distance.  After the bums, punks and drug addicts took over for a decade, the city spent millions more dismantling what they had done and reopened the area to traffic, where it once again became "The Square".  Nothing much changed though and the area remains stagnant and unappealing today.

Heers closed it's doors years ago, and it's many windows were bricked over in an effort to keep it from further decay.  Several years ago, a city slicker land developer from St. Louie made some deal with the city to buy the building and transform it into either a condominium or an upscale hotel.  Good luck with that city boy.

Heers Today ... Complete with Saviour (Or Not)

What happened to downtown Springfield wasn't that unusual. The same thing has happened to thousands of other places across this country.

If and when we ever decide to move back to the area, I think we'll find that we can go home again.  It's just some of the memories that will be missing.

February 13, 2010

Short Attention Span Theatre

It's Saturday night and you're bored.  There's nothing on television but the stupid Olympics.  And it seems that all of the other network and cable stations have thrown up the white flag of surrender to NBC, and aren't even trying to present anything watchable.  Obviously, they think that you are the only one who isn't held mesmerized by the spectacle of women's sewing machine curling and cross country ski dancing.

So, you scan your shelf of DVD's, looking for a movie to entertain you.  The thought comes that you'd like to watch something containing a car chase sequence, but you don't want to invest two hours watching a movie for only 5 or 10 minutes of kick-ass car chase mayhem.

Well pookie, I feel your pain and general laziness.  And that's why I've gathered together the creme de la creme of movie car chase action, stripping away such boring distractions as "plot" or "character development".  So grab a bottle of Boones Farm Strawberry Hill and a bag of nacho cheese Doritos and get ready to be entertained. Here are my favorite car chases from five compelling films.

The French Connection:  Crummy Pontiac Tempest chases clunky elevated train.

The Driver:  Who knew that Ryan O'Neal had enough brain cells remaining to drive a motor vehicle.

The Seven-Ups:  I car chase where you least expected it.

To Live & Die In LA:  Notice anything strange about the traffic pattern?

Bullitt:  The gold standard by which all others are judged.

I hope this counts toward my 20 hours of court ordered community service.

Bachelor Par-Tay

This Summer, Jan and I will have been married for 35 years.  Doesn't seem like that long, but facts are facts.  I'm not sure if it's amazing or frightening to think that I've been married for longer than I was single, but I've mostly forgotten what it was like to be by myself.  And that's probably for the best, because as much as I like to picture myself as a lone eagle, the reality is that I need her companionship.

The other night I was trying to piece together what I did the night before my wedding, and it took me a while to remember.  And even then I could only pull together a couple of things.  I know I met my best man, John, somewhere in St. Louis, and then we went to the home of his sister and brother-in-law for dinner.  From there we went to some lounge at a motel near Lambert Airport where we had a couple of beers, got bored and went back to his sister's place and watched television until we got too tired and went to bed.

I attended kiddie sleep-overs that were more exciting than that.

Sometimes I wonder if I missed out on something by not having a proper bachelor party, although I have no idea what that would entail, since I've never attended one.  I imagine it would feature lots of drinking, and if it were to skew to the depraved side, perhaps some slutty women would attend.  But maybe stuff like that is only portrayed in the movies, so I decided to visit some web sites to see how the "hipster" groom-to-be outfits his last hurrah hootenanny.

From the several sites I looked at, it appears that, besides copious amounts of booze, no bachelor party is complete without the guest of honor outfitted in a hat. There's this one:

The Bra Is A Nice Touch

This seems to be a rather sensible model.  When you're done with the party and the old ball & chain has you out doing yard work, you can always don this to keep the sun out of your eyes.  But maybe you'd like something a little more daring, to match your last-night-of-freedom mind set:

I've Seen That Girl On A Lot Of Mud Flaps

I couldn't help but notice that the young man had beads hanging around his neck.  If you've decided to partake in the hard hooch instead of beer at your party, perhaps this would be the item to wear around your neck:

A Shot Glass Necklace ... Classy!

Small gifts for your groomsmen are standard at a wedding, but what about all of those swell guys who came to your bachelor party?  Why not give them:

Boobie Pens!

Everyone gets hungry at a party, but instead of the usual chips 'n dips, delight your guests with heaping plates of:

Served With Pesto Or Red Sauce ... Delicious!

What's a party without games?  Dull indeed.  So to liven things up and get the drunken destruction of whatever hotel room you're throwing your party at into high gear, how about a spirited game of dodgeball?  But don't use just any old ball ... let loose with a:

Tit Ball!

Wow!  Just looking at all of this fun party shit makes me realize how much I really missed out on way back then. But a little voice in the back of my head keeps telling me that the people that actually had these things at their bachelor parties may have been of a little different bend than me.  I'll bet if I did some checking, I'd guess that a lot of these guys were standing up in church the next day, marrying their ...


February 11, 2010

How Business Works

Yesterday, the laptop computer that I inherited from whoever had this job before me stopped working correctly.  Actually, it did stop working, period.  But computers never completely die.  They still throw up weird shit on the screen and make you believe that their malfunctioning is only temporary, when it is, in actuality, fatal.  This must be some type of defense mechanism so you don't immediately throw them in the trash, but continue to shower attention on them in the mistaken belief that they will heal themselves.

In fact, the only thing wrong with my computer was that the AC pack had failed, draining the battery to a point where it could not be recharged.  The company IT guy was quick to diagnose the problem and arranged to have someone come over with a new AC pack and battery.  Mr. Someone showed up less than a half hour later.

IT Guy:  Here's your AC adapter.

Me:  Thanks.  Hey, where's my new battery?

IT Guy:  (Looks at worksheet)  Doesn't say anything about a battery.

Me:  Seems silly to get a new AC adapter if I don't have a battery.

IT Guy:  Well, I have a battery with me.  I brought it for someone else, but they didn't want it because it costs 120 dollars.

Me:  You mean the company is going to charge me 120 dollars for a battery for a company computer?

IT Guy:  Nah, we'll charge your Department.  The woman I got this battery for didn't want it because her boss wouldn't pay for it.

Me:  Hmmm.  Maybe my boss won't pay for it either.

IT Guy:  You could do this ... take the battery and we'll charge your department 120 dollars, but if your boss raises a big ass stink with my boss, he'll back off and drop the charge.  He's done that before.  But only if the person getting the battery didn't know he was going to be charged 120 dollars.

Me:  But I know you're going to charge me 120 dollars ahead of time.

IT Guy:  Yeah, that's right, so that won't work.

Me:  Let's try this ... you act like you haven't met me and walk back out the door, then come back in.  Just say "here's your battery".

IT Guy:  Okay. (Backs out door, then comes back in)  "Knock, knock".  Here's your battery.

Me:  Thanks.  Oh look at the time!  I'm late for a meeting!  I have to run, so I'll miss the part where you tell me you're going to charge me 120 dollars for the battery. "WINK, WINK"

IT Guy:  Okay, bye.

All the world's a stage ...

February 10, 2010

Feeling Quake-y

Here in Northern Illinois, Mother Nature has seen fit to fill our plates during the last 24 hours.  Several hours before dawn yesterday, it began snowing.  And it didn't stop until sometime just before dawn this morning.  We usually get one or two major snowstorms in this region during the season, and this one qualified as major.  Maybe MN feels like she owes us one more, maybe not.

I'd be upset at having to motor around to work and back in all of this slushy, slippery shit, but as long as it doesn't happen on a continual basis, I can live with it.  Besides, I was able to truly test my new snow thrower.  As it turns out, three foot high drifts were no match for it.  And besides my driveway, I was able to clear a few of the neighbors driveways off as well.  I like to build up those favors so I can cash in on them at a later date.  Nothing is free in this world.

This Gets Old ... Fast!

The snow might have been enough, but we had to have one more natural event occur to really make the day special.  At just before 4 am, I was jolted awake by a strange feeling and the sound of rattling in the house.  I was planning to get up at 4 anyway to clear the driveway off again and take care of the inevitable three foot drift at the end of the driveway that the plow always leaves.  So it was no big deal to check things out.  I thought a giant patch of snow had broke loose from the roof, or all of the electrical conduit had detached from the ceiling in the basement like it did several months ago (a story for another time), but it was none of those things.  It wasn't until I turned the television on at 5 am that I found out we had experienced an earthquake, whose epicenter was about 80 miles from our house.

4.2 Earth Fart

Anyway, you would have to live in this area to appreciate how rare an occurence an earthquake is to the locals.  Some person of authority said that it isn't unusual to have an earthquake occur in this part of the country every 10 years or so.  However, if my memory serves me correctly, this will mark the third quake we have had in 5 years.

Maybe it's time to have that quake rider on the home insurance reactivated.

February 06, 2010

Alternative You-Niverse

I was skipping around the internets the other night, and came across a blog about actors and the famous roles they had turned down.  There were some that I already knew and some that I didn't.  For instance, did you know that Cary Grant turned down the role of James Bond in Dr. No?  He was producer Albert Broccoli's first choice.  I wonder how that would have been.  Let's imagine ...

Judy, Judy, Judy ... Nah.

Al Pacino, Nick Nolte, Chrisopher Walken and Burt Reynolds all turned down the role of Han Solo in Star Wars.  Yeesh!  Burt Reynolds?  I think Al Pacino would have been okay ...

It Was Barzini all along.

Steve McQueen turned down the role of Sundance in that one movie with Paul Newman (what was the name of that?) because he wouldn't have had top billing.  Steve also turned down the role of Popeye Doyle in The French Connection because he wanted to do LeMans instead. And there are a slew of others too numerous to mention.

I think it would have been fun to see these three in their missed roles.  Cary would have been okay, and his varied career would have continued.  Al's might have taken a completely different course that I wouldn't have liked (No Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, or Heat?).  Godfather III would never have been made.  But come to think of it, that would have been a good thing.  A lot of people would probably disagree with me, but I think Steve McQueen was one of the most over rated actors of his generation. He had no emotion, no range and not much going for him but an ability to look pissed off.  He would have killed "Butch Cassidy" and "The French Connection" at the box office

The point of all this is that there are choices and random events that happen to all of us on a daily basis that guide the course of our lives.  Who knows whether or not what we do at any given moment leads us down a path of destruction ... or glory?  The term for this type of thinking is "Alternative Universe".  A world of "what if".

Take me for example (and since this is my blog, I will). What would have happened if on that Saturday in May, 1974 I had decided not to go to that party?  I probably would have never met Jan, and we wouldn't have been married, and our son would not exist, and this particular house that I'm living in right now would not be here in it's present form.

And that's just one minor decision.  Imagine that repeated thousands of times.  Blows your mind dude ...

If it were possible, would I go back and make an opposite decision, just to see where that would lead me?  Only if I were sure I could find my way back to that point once the other path became too frightening.

Alternative Universes are great for day dreaming, but just make sure to take that bag of mental bread crumbs with you, so you can find your way back.  Because most of us wouldn't want to do anything any differently.

Would we?

February 05, 2010


It's been years since I've played Monopoly.  I believe the last time was with Jan and Sean, when Sean was still in middle school.  I recall this because I told myself that it was the last time I would play with them because I was a victim of collusion.

Jan had run into a lucky streak with the dice and had amassed a sizeable amount of the right properties in the right combinations.  Sean and I had not been as lucky, but continued to hold our own, though tenuously.  It came that time in the game whether you all either circle the board endlessly, exchanging cash.  Or you start dealing and go for the kill.

Although Jan had promised to love, honor, and probably not obey me years earlier, her maternal instincts kicked in and she started making incredibly lame deals with Sean, in order to put him in a position of power.  My son, the little asshat he was at the time, proceeded to destroy me, while saving his sainted mother, who smiled sweetly during the whole proceedings.  I wanted to punch them both in the mouth.

When I was a boy, my friends and I would congregate around an old table in my parents air conditioned basement, and pass the afternoon hours during the dog days of a southern Missouri summer by trying to wipe each other out in Monopoly.  I'm convinced to this day, that you could spot the kid who was going to grow up to become a psychotic wife beater/serial killer by watching them play Monopoly.  They were the one's who became so frustrated with the prospect of losing that they threw the board in the air, effectively ending the game.

While in the basement the other day, I ran across our old Monopoly game, but I didn't bother to open it.  It's the sort of game that's meant to be played by more than two people, and only Jan and I remain in the house now.  Just for snicks, I looked up the Monopoly web site and was surprised that they had so many variations on the game now.  Card games, games with credit cards instead of cash, even "princess" Monopoly.  Don't ask me, somehow Hasbro struck a deal with the devil (Walt Disney Company) and there are all sorts of Disney-shit Monopoly games.

WTF Is This?

And that's right ... Hasbro owns Monopoly now, just like they own Risk and Clue.  Parker Brothers hasn't been in the picture for quite a while.  They were purchased by General Mills in the 1960's, then Tonka (the toy truck people) took over, however Tonka was purchased by Hasbro some years back.

Parker Brothers had an amazing streak of luck with the games they selected to publish.  They rejected Monopoly when it was first presented to them in 1933, but gave it another chance in 1934.  It's unprecedented success opened the doors for the P. Bros to introduce Scrabble, Clue, Sorry and Risk.

And it's a good thing that Monopoly was such a success, otherwise Parker Brothers might not have weathered the early part of the 20th century.  Until Monopoly, the company was struggling with such game titles as "Banking", "Klondike", "War In Cuba"; and of all things a card game named ... "The Game Of Ten Little Niggers".

Success ... and society move in mysterious ways ... sometimes for the better.

February 04, 2010

Uber Budget Shopping

Last night, I had to stop at the grocery store on the way home because we were basically out of almost everything resembling food.  I should have known I wasn't getting away with anything when I only spent 40 dollars on groceries last Saturday.

I told Jan that I'd pick up something for dinner because I'm getting a little weary of our modified "South Beach Diet".  Maybe I'm not doing it right, but it seems like we eat chicken, rice and green beans every evening.  And I'm almost positive that this is not the way they do it in South Beach, Florida.  Maybe I got the wrong book and this is the South Beach, Arkansas diet.

When I entered the store, I made a bee line to the deli counter, where they had plenty of warmed over fried chicken, but I chose something called a "HyRoller" sandwich and two tamales.  After the nice deli lady had wrapped these items up and handed them to me, they had kind of lost their appetizing luster ... and I happened to see a big serving bowl of General Tso's chicken, so I asked for a big portion of that too.  Actually, I gestured at it after trying to pronounce "Tso", which the nice deli lady didn't understand.  How do you prounounce that shit anyway?  "TaZow", "Zoh", "Zoo"?

Anyway, I conquered the pronunciation barrier, and wound my way through the rest of the store and headed for the check-out lane.  There was one woman ahead of me, and she was in an earnest conversation with the cashier as she started putting her stuff on the belt, which is never a good sign.  But, seeing as it was the only full service lane open, I had little choice but to take my chances.

She was taking special care in what order she laid her things out and was studying her would-be purchases with, what I thought, great scrutiny.  The guy started checking her items, and about three-quarters of the way through her order, she made a chopping motion with her hand and he stopped, and took the remaining items off the belt and set them aside.  Then he called his floor supervisor and she came over and reset the register.  Meanwhile, the woman was writing her check, and looking a little self-conscious.

Normally, that would be because I was glaring at her for holding me up.  But I wasn't glaring ... I was just puzzled as to what was happening.  So much so that it got the better of me, and after the woman had taken off, I asked the checker about what had just went down.

Apparently, during the pre-checking conversation, the woman had stated that she only had "X" number of dollars to spend, and when the total reached that amount, to stop.  I'm guessing that she sorted her things on the belt into "must haves, sorta must haves and not really must haves".  I was hoping she had managed to get all of her "must haves", but I wasn't paying that much attention, so I don't know.

In retrospect, that's a pretty clever way to stick to your budget guns when you're buying food.  As for me, I probably would have used a calculator or something as I was going up and down the aisles, but seeing as this was a full service store, I applaud her for taking full advantage of the resources available.

By the way, General Tso's chickens must have been about 80 years old, because they were kind of stringy.  Pass the green beans and rice please.

February 02, 2010

Lowered Expectations

If you're a semi-normal child, brought up in a semi-normal household, in a semi-normal environment, then it stands to reason that you have semi-normal goals.  Looking at me now, it's not difficult to believe that I had goals as a young boy, unless you're Jan looking at me now.  She finds it difficult to believe.

But pay no attention to her.  I did have goals, I just didn't know that wanting something really bad was called a goal.  However, as I learned, some goals are not attainable.  For instance, I wanted to play on a little league baseball team, and even though my dad sponsored a team one year (Beverly Heating & Air Conditioning), I never made the cut, because I couldn't hit a fast ball.  You'd think the old bastard could have pulled a few strings so I could have least sat on the bench, but noooooo ... I didn't even get a cool baseball jacket.  What kind of fucked up shit is that?

Okay, so I wasn't very athletic, so none of those athlete-y type goals were met, but I thought I could at least do something cerebral.   But in addition to suffering from late blooming coordination, I also suffered from late blooming brain development.  However, there were ways around the brainy stuff, if you had money.

I remember my first trip to a dentists office.  As I sat waiting to have my mouth torn to pieces, I perused the books littering a table in the waiting area.  Instead of picking up a "Highlights" magazine (Goofus & Gallant was my favorite feature), I selected a National Geographic.  I was simply enthralled.  The pictures, the adventures, the animals, the bare boobs ... this was good stuff!  And it came out every month!  If only there was some way to read this without coming to the dentists office twelve times a year.

And then I saw the subscription card stuck in the middle of the magazine.  That's the ticket!  I'll just get my mom to buy a subscription for only ...  48 fucking dollars a year?!

Shit, that was two dollars an issue, and my mom wouldn't even spring a quarter for a crappy Look magazine once in a blue moon.  I was always under the impression that we never had any magazines around the house because my dad couldn't read, but I was proven wrong later on in life.  Be that as it may,  I asked mom if she would spring for the National Geographic subscription.  After all, it had to help me do better in school, right?  Hell, that was as good an argument as any.  But I was met with hoots of derision.  Mom used to hoot a lot.  I always thought that she would make a good Marvel comics villain.  You know, the Fantastic Four vs. The Hoot Owl ...

And so, I went through the rest of my young life, scarred ... forced to read tattered copies of National Geographic in strange medical offices.

You know how when you get to be an adult, and you realize that you can have all of the things you only dreamed about when you were a kid?  Like a Corvette, or a speed boat, or Yvette Mimieux?

Nah, me neither.  But, about a month ago, I received an invitation in the mail from ... THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY ... to join their prestigious family and receive 12 issues of the magazine plus a map of the world for the low, low price of only $12.99 (a 149 dollar value!).  So, of course I dashed off a check and sent it winging away.

This afternoon, I opened my mailbox, and waiting for me were the January and February issues of National Geographic magazine, a map of the world, and a National Geographic Society Membership Card.  Finally, after 50 long years, I had arrived!  And my first thought was ...


Childhood goals aren't all their cracked up to be.

February 01, 2010

Bond ... Bruce Bond

I was talking to a neighbor over the weekend, and the subject of genealogy came up.  This person had spent the last several months tracing his family tree, and was excited to have reached back in his past as far as his great grandfather.  I feigned interest for a bit and then excused myself, claiming that I desperately needed to take a dump.  Tracing your family tree is one past time that I just just don't understand.  I guess the information is worth something if you want to commission a coat of arms, but otherwise it seems rather useless to me.

My cousin Judy (aka "Weirdo"), who I hadn't seen or talked to in 40 years, contacted me some time back via e-mail, wanting some information concerning the family tree she was putting together.  Turns out, she wanted to know the names of my Mom and Dad.  Now, this woman had been to our house numerous times as a teenager, and I distinctly remember mater and pater being there during those visits.  So, in my reply, I expressed my best wishes that the remainder of her acid trip was as pleasant as the first part, and to never contact me again.

My mother told me later that Judy had determined that I am part Pawnee Indian, but considering the source, it's just as likely that I am part sea otter.

In my mind, what seems way more fun than taking years to find the origins of my family, is to take an afternoon or so and make up a family tree of a fictitious character.  I can just see Ian Fleming sitting at a country club bar somewhere in Burma, getting slowly sloshed on gin and tonics while mapping out his favorite character's genealogy on a cocktail napkin.

Take a look ...

And I thought I knew my James Bond.  I know who Kissy Suzuki is, but "Shrinking" Violet Holmes?  Also, James had a brother Henry!  I wonder if they called him Hank?

On closer inspection, it appears as if this family tree wasn't put together by Ian Fleming, but by some chap named Win Scott Eckert.  This looks like some sort of literary infringement to me.  If I were Ian, I'd sue.

Except he's dead, so that probably isn't going to happen.