Monday, May 30, 2011

Is This Sign Really Necessary?

  Seriously, can you imagine anyone going up to the counter and saying, "Idaho!?  I want my potatoes from Maine, dammit! You can keep your crappy french fries."

  I suppose the only time this sign would be important is if it said, "Today's Potatoes Are From My Ass."

  Behind the scenes:  In trying to get this picture, I wandered in front of the counter holding my cell phone up as if to try to get a signal.  Pretty sly, I think.  Even if the kid at the cash register thought I was some kind of spaz.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Come On Eileen

Oh, I don't know....   'Come On Eileen' sounds messy.  And not a little bit dirty.

What's more, if I had a daughter named Eileen, I'd tell her not to trust anyone who didn't wear a shirt under his bib overalls.  Or socks.

I'm just sayin'...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Turn Your Head to the Left and Cough

DISCLAIMER:  The following is a repost of one of my earliest entries on Blogger.  I feel comfortable that most of you have not read it (except SherilinR, one of my longest standing followers.  She's a real peach.  Sherilin?  You may as well go get a cup of coffee.  Or schnapps.  I won't judge).  The reason I decided to snivel a rerun on you is that I have family coming to visit over the holiday.  I'm actually looking forward to it.  It will give me an excuse to drink beer without Mrs. Penwasser giving me the stink eye.  That being the case, I won't have a lot of extra time over the next few days to write anything like my normal hideous hysterical observations.  I'll drop in as often as I can and actually will read YOUR posts before I write one of my own.  I'll do this even if I drink a LOT of beer.    So, if you haven't read it, enjoy.  If so, my apologies.

    Time marches on and the calendar is a mocking reminder that I  once again must be poked, prodded, and probed. Yes, my annual appointment with mortality is drawing near.  Add that to my fear the doctor may find something wrong with me and I get as nervous as Osama Bin Laden at the VFW.
  (NOTE:  this was written a couple years before OBL had air conditioning installed in his skull)
  “C’mon, ya big baby!”, my wife smugly scolded, “what’s so bad about a physical? After all, it’s not like having a baby!”
    Why is it that women always feel compelled to trot out the old labor pain nugget?  I’ll grant you that being violated by a man in rubber gloves is tame compared to forcing what feels like an ten-pound bowling ball through a keyhole.
    But, hey, a physical is no Swedish massage, either. I’d rather mud-wrestle Chaz Bono.
    You know the drill. Fasting (“Not even coffee!?”) the night before gets the ball rolling. Ostensibly for counting cholesterol, lipids, or demonic humours, I think it’s to keep us just cranky enough so that any chance of a pleasant morning is torpedoed from the get go.
    After picking up a wheelbarrow of paperwork, I first shuffle to the lab to pick up two test tubes for the “Ritual Gathering of Bodily Fluids.”  One for cholesterol, HIV, Mad Cow Disease, and for that creepy new intern from Eastern Europe, Vlad.  As for what that other little vial is for, well, let’s just say it’s not just for “target practice.”
    After ridding myself of what was, only minutes before, happily minding its business inside my body, I’m off to any one of several examinations.  The hearing test is one of my favorites.  At least in the hearing booth, I can take a nap.  It’s quiet, cool, and dark in there.  Get that rhythm thing going-beep, beep, beep, snnzzzzzzzz.....
    Next, time to fill out my paperwork while the roadies set up the next battery of tests.  Hmm, let’s see, any scars? Trick knees?  Mildew?  Rickets?  The whole gamut of maladies from asthma to zebraphilia is covered, but it’s real tough to remember if I touched anything during last year’s vacation at Disney’s Leper Village and Colonic Farm.
    After that, off for chest X-Rays, eye test (two, blue, near-sighted, thanks for asking), and another hearing test to double-check the results of my narcoleptic button-mashing.
    Since I am chronologically challenged, I need an EKG and treadmill stress test.  But, even though I do my best “Six Million Dollar Man” impression, I suspect I more closely resemble George Jetson (“Jane, stop this crazy thing!”).
    Besides being terrified of what all those squiggly lines mean, I’m deathly afraid of later discovering one of those sticky EKG thingies in my armpit when I take a shower-youch!
    Finally, it’s the doctor’s turn to decide whether my body should be condemned, spackled, or given a pass for another year. Ushered into an antiseptic examining room by a refugee from the East German Womens Weightlifting team, I strip down to my underwear (clean, ‘natch) and try not to slip off that crinkly paper found only in doctors’ offices.
    After what seems like hours of staring at the walls and reading all the literature warning of diseases which are in my house right now, the doctor finally swoops in.  He scans my paperwork, nods his head, grunts a couple “Hmm hmms”, and reaches into his cabinet for rubber gloves and a tube of KY Jelly.
    Oh, not a good sign.
    Before the finale, though, I’m asked to perform a series of little tasks like a circus seal.  I do everything except a puppet show: bend over, walk on my heels like frikkin' Frankenstein, walk on my toes, put my left foot in, take my left foot out, put my left foot in, and shake it all about.
    He shoves a flashlight up my nose, rams a popsicle stick down my throat, thumps my chest with a stethoscope, and jiggles “the boys” like castanets.  He jabs me in my side and stomach just to get a good idea of where my organs are (good news: all present and accounted for).
    Just when I began to think I was home-free (hoping, illogically, that he just “forgot”), the doctor asks me to lie on my side and bring my knees up to my chest.  Advising me that I’ll feel a “slight pressure” (why do they always say that?) and to "relax" (yeah, THAT’S gonna happen).
    Without so much as a courteous “how do ya do?”, he’s in up to his elbows and...well, it’s just too terrible to describe. Let’s just say I’m clean as a whistle inside and out.
    And, they’ll have to kill me before I go to prison.
    Eventually, after twenty minutes of gasping like a hooked mackerel on his examining table, I redress and limp from his office, bruised yet buoyed by another clean bill of health.
    Before I could make my escape to the safety of my car, though, I’m ambushed by his assistant, Nurse Mengele.       
    Seems I need more tests.
    Apparently, any beeping in my ears makes me fall asleep.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Today's Vocabulary

Dogwood:  1. (n) Fido's happy to see ya.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A New Term. You're Welcome.

    A few days ago, while dashing through my yard yelling at squirrels (I don’t like the way they look at me), I started to hear a phone ring.  It started just as I bent over to wrestle one of the tree rodents for his nuts (yes, I left myself wide open.  Enjoy.).  I initially paid it no mind because, after all, I’m known for hallucinations (Elvis at the proctologist) and hearing things (I’m telling you, those squirrels are hatching a plot against me). 
    So, I figured I was just being “old man crazy” again.
    As it kept ringing, though, I glanced at the neighbor’s yard.  Ever since I walked through their front door with my Wal-Mart vest on, they’ve been very reluctant to leave their house.  Still, it was a nice day, so maybe they thought it was worth the risk of engaging me in conversation.
    But, there wasn’t a soul in sight.
    Eventually, I heard someone say, “Hello?”
    Terrified, I spun around, desperately seeking the identity of the disembodied caller.  Since it was the day of the Apocalypse (NOTE: Now rescheduled for October 21st.  A Friday!  That effin’ Harold Camping dude really likes to dork up weekends, doesn’t he?), I was afraid Jesus had come to collect me.
    After concluding that the deity wouldn’t use a phone to contact me (although he mayyy text me.  We’re BFFs), I relaxed.
    As I continued to listen, I heard a familiar voice.  “Al? Al?  Pick up the damn phone!”  It sounded like Mrs. Penwasser.
    Looking all over the yard (the squirrel long since escaped to the safety of a tree-I swear that little SOB gave me the finger), I neither saw hide nor hair of my wife or a phone.
(NOTE:  Using the term ‘hide’ when describing my wife may be ill-advised).
    The voice continuing to badger me, I finally looked down at my front trouser pocket.  Coming from within my pants (which kinda sounds like the title for a porno, doesn’t it?) were demands that I answer.  
    I quickly grabbed my cell phone and said, “Hello?”
    “What do you mean, ‘hello’?  You called me.”
    “No, I didn’t.  My phone just started ringing.”
    “That’s crazy, you-oh, I know what you did.  You ‘Butt-Dialed’ me.”
    Thinking about it, though, I wondered how I could have Butt-Dialed her.  I mean, the phone wasn’t in my back pocket, but the front.
    In fact, how many people carry their phones hanging off their rear ends?  I’m sure some do, but not nearly enough to rate the distinction of the term “Butt-Dial.”
    I’ll bet you most people put their cell phones in their front pockets (unless they’re female.  They have the option of using the black hole known as a purse).
    So, I’ve decided to call this practice by a much more accurate term:  “Dick-Dial.”
    Dick-Dial is a much more precise description of how an accidental call could happen.  As a man shifts, his favorite friend could very easily punch up the number for the local Chinese restaurant, haberdashery (NOTE: I have no idea what that is), or Directory Information for Bangkok (Gratuitous, cheap joke).
    Unfortunately for me, I’ll never have to worry about being charged for an inadvertent overseas call.  Due to circumstances beyond my control, I’m physically unable to dial a long-distance call.
    It’s a curse.
    Thank goodness I’m a witty conersationalist.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Okay, I'll Do It

But, wouldn't that get me arrested?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sometimes You Just Gotta Go

Happy Armed Forces Day

   In a slight departure from my usual hideous rantings, I thought I’d play this one straight.  Oh sure, I’ll toss in a few wisecracks here and there (did you hear the one about the priest, the rabbi, and the monkey?), but this is a pretty serious subject.
  Every third Saturday in May, the United States celebrates Armed Forces Day.  Created on August 31, 1949, at the behest of President Harry S Truman, it replaced the separate days observed by the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and the Air Force.  So, instead of Americans ignoring four individual days, they could now blow off only one (seriously, ask your friends how many of them even know it’s Armed Forces Day today).
  That’s okay, though.  Those of us who have worn the uniform, along with our families and friends, see it for the special occasion it is.  We don’t need parades, longwinded “I was there” speeches, or linen sales at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  It’s enough to honor those who served before us and remember those who continue to serve.
  It just sucks that it’s on the same day that the world is going to end.  Oh, hell, I’ll put my flag up, anyway.  I’ll just need a flesh-eating zombie to take it down.
  Just so those of you with different postal systems and the Royal Family don’t think I’ve ignored your nations, here’s when you honor your military:
Canada:  1st Sunday in June.  Or when the lakes are ice-free and the Stanley Cup playoffs are over (sorry, couldn’t resist).
United Kingdom:  June 27th, which has something to do with Victoria being Cross.  Maybe.  I don’t know.  I got tired of reading Wikapedia.
Australia/New Zealand:  YOU have ANZAC Day on April 25th.  This is the day after AFLAC Day when Aussies and Kiwis (did I get that right?) honor ducks in the military.
Iran:  “Death To America Day” is on April 8th.
Slovenia:  May 15th.  I’m telling you, someone from Slovenia has been reading my blog.
***NOTE: The dates are real.  Well, except AFLAC Day.

On a personal note:  Yesterday, I had the honor of traveling to the Bronx (that wasn’t the honor) and reading the Officer’s Commissioning Oath to one of the most outstanding young ladies who ever worked for me.  An Information Technology Specialist (meaning: wayyyy smarter than I), she is now an Ensign in the Navy and will report to her ship in San Diego next month.
  Not only was I thrilled that my uniform still fit after six years, I was proud, very proud, to have played a small part in her career.  She’s better than I ever was.
  Even though I looked fabulous in my whites. 
  And that’s how I will remember Armed Forces Day, 2011.
Yeah. I'm holding a gun. Scares the hell out of me, too.  

Friday, May 20, 2011

On the Bright Side...

  at least three people are pretty cool with the whole Schwarzenegger thing.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

An Observation

Today’s Vocabulary
Verbal Verbosity:  1. (n) Annoying tendency to say in 500 words when 10 will do.
2. (n) Seizing on one innocuous factoid and turning it into an overly long screed.
3. (n) Penwasser Place

  An observation, if I may?
  Why is the “#” on a telephone keypad called the “pound” key?  Wouldn’t it be more accurate to call it the “number” key, instead?  I can certainly understand why “٭” is called the “star” key, because it kinda looks like a star (even though I think it looks more like an asterisk).  At any rate, it looks a helluva lot more like a star than a “#” looks like a “pound.”
  Isn’t the symbol for “pound” supposed to be “lb?”  Yes, I know, Mr. Smarty-Pants Dead Language Guy, it’s an abbreviation for a Latin phrase, “Lardassius Buttocks.” Or something like that.  
  I could be wrong, though.  But, as we’ve clearly determined in my earlier posts, I’m really too lazy to figure out the exact meanings of things.  Which is pretty darn pitiful in this day and age of “Google,” “Yahoo,” and “Bing” (NOTE:  The search engine, NOT the deceased crooner who starred in numerous “On the Road” flicks with Dorothy Lamour and Bob Hope.  Who are also dead.)
  Even so, I’m guessing that sticking an “lb” on a keyboard already cluttered with numbers and letters would be confusing.  You could imagine the mix-ups which might ensue while trying to dial phone sex (as I’ve heard some people do).  You might end up with a “Lardassius Buttocks” breathing heavy in your ear.  And asking, “Are you gonna eat that?”
  Still, it bothers me that it’s called “pound.”  Although, I must admit, it could be confusing calling it what it really is:
  “When you’ve completed your transaction, press the ‘number’ key.”
  “Number key!!??  What the hell are you talking about??  They’re all numbers!!  Which one do I frikkin’ press!!??  Mommy!!” 
  Considering this, I realized that the good folks at AT&T, Bell Atlantic, and Wal-Mart had to call the “#something.
  So, since calling it the “TIC TAC TOE” key would be silly and calling it the “Cartesian Grid” key would be both silly and pretentious, they flipped a coin and went with the “pound” key.
  I’m just happy they didn’t go all metric on us and call it the “kilogram” key.  USA!! USA!!
  What I’m saying is, go right ahead and continue to press that “pound” key with confidence.  All things considered, it’s probably a good thing your phone uses “#” instead of “lb.
  Because, if it did, you might have to worry about dialing up the ghost of Orson Welles for phone sex.

  There now, I got this in under 500 words.  Verbose, indeed. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Blog of War Round 2

And now for something completely different....

Welcome to Round 2 of “Blog of War”

The remaining 3 competitors are going head to head with each other, having been given the task of finding a small blog (less than 20 followers)

As readers please take the time to look at all 3 entries - There was clearly a little bit of over enthusiasm in the last round, with votes being cast before all the entries had been loaded ….This is not Florida guys, or even a one party communist state….

The links to the other entries can be found - Link to Blog of War – round 2  

You have until the 21st May to vote - This is done by “following” one of the selected blogs and should be based on the job that the competitors have done in selecting a good blog and how well they have championed that blog. ….

Please note. If you happen to like more than one of the featured blogs my advice in order not to nullify your vote is go back and follow the 2nd or even 3rd blog after the 21st May)  

Best of luck to all three contestants

OK, Al here.  The rest of this blog is mine, all mine (you can probably tell by my schizophrenic style of writing).....

  Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce Leslie Moon of the  Four Moons blog.
  Take a bow, Leslie.
  <>  <>
  Oh, what was I thinking?  This is supposed to be a surprise party for Leslie.  She’s probably going to be caught unawares by this homage (pronounced “ohhmahje.” See?  I can be artsy-fartsy with the best of them.  Hee hee hee...I said “fartsy.”) to her nifty little blog.
  I was first attracted to Four Moons when I thought it was a collection of stories about cheerleaders hanging out bus windows (think about it).  I have to admit that I was a tad disappointed when I checked it out, especially when there weren’t any pictures of said cheerleaders.
  Oh, well, I consoled myself, at least it wasn’t an astronomy blog.  You’d think by now I wouldn’t worry about accidentally latching on to some dude’s personal rants about the Space Program.  After all, I follow Antares Crypto and TheSuniverse.  Those two certainly don’t wax lyrical about the colonic pleasures of interstellar dust.  Although...
  Anyway, Four Moons is really a wonderful collection of tales of what it’s like to live in Middle America.  This, I suppose, is a lot like Middle Earth.  Only without the hobbits.  Or the Orcs.  Or white-bearded homosexual men with wooden staffs who ride huge birds bareback.  The homosexual, not the staff.  Although...
  Okay, it’s nothing like Middle Earth.  I hope.
  Leslie first set up her “Blogging Shop” (NOTE: Not a real thing) on January 4, 2010.  Her first post was a tiny paragraph whereby she announced she was getting into the whole blogging thing.  Plus, she mentioned something about getting some super-technical doodad on her telephone.  Like a dial tone (did I mention she’s from Arkansas?).
  I was surprised that she only has 14 followers, though, 5 of those have no profile pictures.  You know, a lot like those incognito Mafia snitches you see in silhouette on Geraldo.  Not that I have anything against the Mafia.  That would be...unwise.
  My point is that those five people may not even exist.  This would then mean Leslie wanted to pad her numbers using bogus people with names like Graham Cracker, Buster Hymen, Seymour Butts, Dick Johnson, or Al Gore.  She probably really only has something like 9 followers, including me (and I’m like an annoying neighbor).
  Hell, I even have a couple of followers with blank “Have You Seen Me?” milk carton shadow pics.  You think Elmer Fudd and Russ T. Bedsprings are real people?
  I know you want to check.  Go ahead, I’ll wait.
  Yeah, I was just joshing.  My “no picture” followers are all for real.  Even “Pacjoyseygirl.”  She probably doesn’t want to follow my blog, but she owes me money.
  My point is that it’s a shame that Leslie doesn’t have more followers.  You really should check out her blog.  Just don’t be put off by her latest post, a take on Justin Beiber.  If you can choke down your initial gag reflex, the rest of her writing is worth a look.
  I think part of the reason she doesn’t have more “fans” than she has is that it’s pretty difficult to search for a specific blog on Blogger (maybe difficult for just me, I don’t know).  Most of the time, you have to stumble onto something you like or stalk a person’s comments on another blog.  Then, when they read what you have to say, they follow you in the hopes you have cookies.  Or pictures of cheerleaders.
  Hey, I won’t judge.
  So it was (kinda) with Leslie.  She commented on one of my hideous posts (for all I know, it was the pee cream one. I’m too lazy to check).  I then followed her to Four Moons.  Her charming way of putting things made me think I was reading about a real-live person and not a blow-up piece of livestock.  Although...
  Oh and, by the way, the Four Moons name is a play on the fact that there are four members of her family.  I’m presuming they’re all named “Moon.”
  I’ve been a follower of hers for a few months and it wasn’t until last week that it dawned on me what the name meant.
  I never said I was the sharpest knife in the drawer.
  If you want an entertaining slice of American Life (much less fattening than Lard Pie), please give Leslie some no-kidding living people as followers.  She doesn’t need any more refugees from the Witness Protection program
  Just don’t tell the Mafia.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Home Again Home Again Jiggedy Jig

  I, apparently, am an ignoramus.
  Despite the fact I’m a high school graduate and have been to seven colleges (eight, if you include Klown Kollege), it doesn’t look like the Mensa Society is going to be sending me a membership application any time soon.
  So, I guess I have that in common with the cast of The Jersey Shore.
  I just got back from a trip to Virginia whereby I helped my son return from his first year at college.  It was a great experience for us and the thousands who jammed the campus, all vying for the ten parking spots in front of the dorm.  For some reason, it never occurred to me that people other than my son would also be moving home on the same day.
  Surprisingly, this is not why I am an ignoramus.  But, it is in third place.
  So, since we had to jockey around what seemed like half the population of Eastern seaboard (and South Korea-it’s a technical college, after all), the closest parking was a quarter mile away.  This doesn’t seem so bad, until you consider the ungodly number of trips to the car.  With an ungodly amount of stuff.  Without the handcart I had forgotten to bring.
  I know what you’re thinking.  Surely, this must be why my intelligence is in doubt.  No, it only checks in at number two.
  Finally, several hours after our scheduled departure, we joined the mad exodus leaving for the summer.  After exchanging a vital organ for a tank of gasoline, we got on the highway and headed north to the land of Amish and scrapple.  As we were in a beautiful spot in Virginia, the first several hours offered breathtaking panoramas of indescribable natural beauty (and the heady aroma of manure on the innumerable pig farms).
  Eventually, we began to think about dinner.  The effort of lugging several metric tons of college kid crap and preventing our testicles from dropping on the sidewalk left us famished.  Fortunately, our nation’s highways offer a plethora (NOTE: Uppity word for “heapin’ helpful”) of dining choices.
  I reminded my son about the trouble Aunt May experienced when she moved to Florida.  Since I wanted to avoid a “Southern Roadkill Surprise” (NOTE: This can be found in Pressed Ham and Interstate Surprise.  How’s that for a shameless crossover?), I decided we should eschew truck stops.
  Neither did I want any of the countless fast food joints which littered the asphalt ribbon of commerce (Hey, I’m feeling lyrically poetic tonight.  Sue me.).  Two all beef patties, faux chicken nuggets, or feline double beef burritos wouldn’t do.
  I wanted a sit-down establishment so we decided to stop at the very first Biscuit Tub we found (NOTE: This is not its real name.  I just hesitate to give them free advertising.  Oh, who am I kidding?  I don’t want to get sued).
  You probably know the type of joint I’m talking about.  Found up and down the East Coast-never more than a mile from the interstate, it seems-Biscuit Tubs offer the hungry traveler a folksy environment which conveys a General Store feel, without colorful Hooterville characters.
  I’ve seen them from Florida to Maine (if you’ve spotted them anywhere else, let me know) and they’re a family favorite.  The menu is extensive and offers breakfast all day in addition to lunch and dinner fare, including southern specialties.   
  Although, I’ll bet grits isn’t real big in Maine.  Who knows, though?  Maybe it is.  But I just can’t imagine a Mainer getting all jazzed about a bowl of flavorless Maypo.  It’s like eating watery spackle.  Yuk.
  The store portion of the “Tub” is equally wide-ranging.  That place has more bric-a-bracs, doodads, knickknacks paddy whacks, give a dog a bone than you can imagine.  Some of the candy, especially, I haven’t seen since I was a little kid in Connecticut.  Of course, they also have the ubiquitous frogs-smoking-cigar figurine.  But, really, what tourist trap worth its cheap trinkets doesn’t?
  Anyway, after being greeted by a cheerful hostess who spoke with a lovely drawl (I’ll bet the hostesses in New Jersey speak the same way), we were shown to our table.
  After ordering, I took in the array of local sports pictures, stuffed animal heads, guns, gas station signs, and rusty farm implements which smothered walls made to look like they were right off a barn.  Eventually, I tired of my tour through 20th century rural America and glanced at the little ketchup-stained game on our table in front of the spittoon.
  One of those little golf tee thingie peghole games which I like to call a “golf tee thingie peghole game,” I thought to give it a try.
  It didn’t look complicated.  All you had to do was leapfrog each tee, remove that tee, and then finish with, hopefully, one tee (NOTE: Probably a record for the most uses of the word “tee” in one sentence).
  After all, I was an educated man.  Surely, I could best any game a country bumpkin diner could throw at me.
  Well, my first try went awry (NOTE: Hey, that rhymed! I told you I was poetic this evening).  Instead of the Holy Grail of one, I was left with six tees.  Damn!  I tried again.
  Five.  Crap.
  For my third try, I analyzed the tiny pegboard with the eye of master chessmaster (gee, that was redundant).  Ignoring the engineering student across from me, I determined to visualize each possible move in advance.  Surely, I could eliminate all tees save one.
  Ten minutes later, I looked down in disbelief at four tees.
  As the waitress set our meals down, I grimaced.  There would be no time to give it another try.  Kidding myself, I scoffed that four was actually pretty good.  Any less than that required the Stephen Hawkings of little golf tee thingie games.
  My son looked at the board.  Barely visible were the scoring rules.  He read them, “One left-Genius,” “Two-Wizard,” “Three-Wise Guy,” “Four-Ignoramus.”
  That’s right. Ignoramus.
  What’s more, I got grits.
  They actually were pretty good.
  Maybe I’m not such a dope, after all.          

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Today's Vocabulary

Sourpuss: 1. (n) Reason why the new lemon-lime douche was pulled off the shelves.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Gone For a Couple Days

  Hi, all!
  I don't anyone to be alarmed, but I'll be gone for a couple of days.  You see, I need to go pick up the kid who cuts my lawn in Virginia today.  Well, I don't mean my LAWN is in Virginia, but the kid is.  Damn grammar.
  I plan on leaving sometime this afternoon.  After seven hours of highway adventure (punctuated by talk radio, bad singing, and me picking my nose next to any car I find with old people), I'll get to his college sometime around midnight.  If I'm lucky, I'll get up in time the next morning for a Danish and a lukewarm cup of coffee.  I don't know the Danish girl's name, but I'm looking forward to the coffee.
  Just so you don't think I don't care (is that too many uses of the word "don't"? I had to read it a couple of times to make sure it made sense.  Kinda like a double negative thing, ya know), I've left a "Today's Vocabulary" on delayed post for Wednesday.
  Love that delayed post.  Makes you think I'm up and aware when I'm actually still drooling on a motel's pillow.
  Till Thursday...?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Once Upon a Time At the Park-The Conclusion

When last we met...Chased out of High Park by the Zowine brothers, my friends and I decide to do something socially responsible-wing rocks at trains.....

    We jumped the guardrail at Dead Man’s Curve. 
    Pushing our way through the brambles down towards the tracks, I was amazed at how much junk choked the bushes leading to the rail bed.  Old newspapers and trash bags I could understand, but department store mannequins?
    Donny dug into his pockets.
    “What are you doing?” I asked.
    “Getting some change.  Train comes by and splat!  I have slugs I can use in candy and soda machines.”
    “But, aren’t those...quarters?”
    “Yeah, why?” he asked as he set a dollar’s worth of change on the rail.
    “Well, why would you use a quarter to make a slug for a gumball that costs a penny?”
    I could almost hear the gears grind to a halt in his head.  Finally, “Because it’s cool!”
    I didn’t have any money, but Spags laid fifty cents on the rail as his contribution to the cause.
    “Now what?” he asked.
    “Now we wait,” Donny said.  “A train will come by anytime.” 
    Sure enough, an extremely long freight train came slowly trundled into view within ten minutes.
    Coins forgotten, we selected rocks the size of ostrich eggs from the bed surrounding the rails.  I tossed mine up and down, testing its heft.  Oh, yeah, this one’ll be great.  Now, which car should I clobber?
    Watching, and rejecting, several, I finally chose a large Norfolk and Southern boxcar as my “victim.”  I hoped it was empty.  The empty ones made a huge claaaannnngggg when hit by rocks.
    I took aim and heaved the rock with all my might.  The stone sailed through the air and whacked the car squarely in the door, making a deliciously loud clunk when it hit.
    Spags and Donny were equally dead-on with their rocks.
    “Hey!”  came a sharp voice to the right.  “What the hell you kids think you’re doing?”
    Startled, we looked up to see a large man, toting an equally large wrench, bearing down on us.  Dressed in greasy overalls and a battered baseball cap, he plodded alongside one of the boxcars that slowly rumbled past.  Apparently a mechanic of some kind, he didn’t look too happy.
    Of course, Spags gave the answer all kids give when caught doing something they shouldn’t, “Nuttin’.”
    “Don’t look like ‘nuttin’ to me!”
    Donny shrugged, “It’s just a freight train.”
    The man angrily gestured with the wrench.  “That’s where you wrong, smart ass!  First of all, it’s MY freight train!  Second, if you throw rocks at freight cars, you’ll throw rocks at passenger trains!”
    I didn’t follow that train (once again, pardon the pun) of logic.  However, since he was the one holding the wrench, I kept my mouth shut.  Mercifully, so did Donny.
    “I oughta call the cops!” the train man barked.  But, after considering how long he’d have to wait for the police, he reconsidered. “But, not today.  Now, get the hell out of here!”
    Jamming the wrench into his overalls, he stalked off after the disappearing caboose.
    Thinking that was a fine idea, we ducked back into the garage-strewn underbrush.
    “Hey, wait!”
    Donny was frantically scooping up the coins flung off the rail by the passing cars.  Bearing no resemblance to what they once were, they were now wafers of faceless metal squashed into the size of half dollars.
    “Wow, cool!”
    I shook my head in amazement.  Donny thought it was cool that he turned a dollar and a half into useless metal disks?   “You can’t use them, you know.”
    He jingled them.  “Who says?  They’ll be my lucky charms.”
    Spags dug a small paper sack out from underneath a discarded tire.  “Why don’t you carry them in this?”
    Donny squinted his eyes.  With a terrible Irish accent he said, “Oy, so yer after me lucky charms, eh?”
    Oh, yeah, he’s a real scream, that Donny.
    Our booty secure, we climbed back to the street, Donny happily swinging the bag back and forth like a hobo prospector.  He was convinced he carried the most precious of treasures, courtesy of the New Haven & Hartford railroad.
    Near the top, I called to my companions to hurry up.  I suggested we go to Gold’s Grocery to get something to eat.
    “But, you idiot,” I scolded Donny, “now we have to go to my house to get money because you turned cold hard cash into cold hard crap.”
    “Well, well, well.”
    My heart skipped a beat.  I looked up to see the Zowines sitting on the guardrail, grinning like two greasy Cheshire Cats.
    The bigger one jumped off the rail.  His lip was turned up in a snarl and I noticed a bolt-must have fallen out of his neck-swimming among the green fence posts of his teeth.  But, it was his fists which held my attention.  They looked like huge slabs of meat topped with dirty fingernails.
    “Hey, Penwasser.  Didn’t I tell you to stop?  I only wanted to talk,” he snarled.  He glared at Donny.
    “Hey, Bobby, here’s the tough guy.”
    Bobby-well, now I knew one of their names-scowled.  “So, you want me to stick you in a can?  Or do you want Richie to do it?  Your choice, numbnuts.”
    Well, I giggled despite impending doom, at least they knew his name.
    Donny stuck the bag in his back pocket.  He balled his fists and leaned towards Bobby.
    Oh, I didn’t like where this was going.
    I reached over and plucked the bag from Donny’s trousers.  I jiggled it up and down like a cat’s toy.
    Richie stopped. 
    Please, Donny, I desperately hoped, just shut up.  And, no sucker punch. 
    The glowering Zowine moved the bolt to the side of his mouth and sneered, “What’s that?”
    “How ‘bout we pay you a fine?  You leave us alone and we give you this bag of money.”
    “Or, how ‘bout we hang you by your pants from a telephone pole and then take your money?”
    Had to admit, I couldn’t argue with that logic.  Nice try, Al.  I closed my eyes.  We who are about to die salute you.
    “Hey, Richie.”
    Bobby pointed down the street.  Evidently, we’d drawn the attention of a mailman who was headed our way.  I think the pith helmet scared them.
    Richie snatched the bag.  “It’s your lucky day, Penwasser.  I accept your offer.  Now, get lost!”
    We didn’t need to be told twice.  Spags, Donny, and I took off like the devil was chasing us (which, in a sense, was kind of true). 
    Since my house was only a few blocks away, I knew we’d be safe as long as we didn’t stop to smell any roses-or burn any ants.  I wanted to be as far away as possible before Richie Zowine discovered we’d bought our freedom with slugs as useless as the paper bag that carried them.
    As we turned the last corner before safety, I heard my name screamed in bloody murder for the third time that day.
    At least Donny was right about one thing.
    They were lucky charms. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mothers Day

Good ole Mom, she had her hands full.

Oh, Christ, the old man's home!  And he's gonna want to go fishing!!!!

Even if you haven't read my post on April 6th, Once Upon a Fishing Trip, I think you can get a pretty good idea how psychologically scarred we were by Dad's penchant for making us go fishing with him. But, if you DID read it (or want to  April 6th-Brought To You By the Letter 'F'), it will more adequately explain the above. 

Happy Mothers Day to all the moms out there!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Once Upon a Time at the Park Part Deux

Up till now.....I had decided to flee (fleeing being the better part of valor) my house after disfiguring a teen idol (NOTE: One of my sister's teen idols actually disfigure himself.  Before he died.  Any guesses who?).  Accompanied by my friend, Tom, we headed to High Park to see what we could find. Discovering our friend, Donny, along the way, we talked him out of burning ants so he could join us.  The ants were grateful.....

    As we approached the park I noticed it was unnaturally quiet.
    Almost too quiet.  That was odd.
    But, as we stepped to the gate leading onto the field, I picked up the faint cry of someone in trouble.
    “Look!” cried Spags.
    Following his outstretched arm, I saw the source of the anguished noises at the far end of the park.
    The Zowine brothers were dunking some poor soul by his ankles like a human tea bag into a Department of Parks trash can.  The hapless victim’s cries for release echoed pitifully from within the metal container.
    “I wonder who that is?”
    “Someone slow.”
    I looked for some clue who it might be, but all I could see were sneakers.  And I didn’t recognize them
    The older Zowine abruptly released his victim’s ankles.  Then, giving a roar of triumph, he kicked the barrel over.  It rolled a few feet away before coming to a rest against one of the park’s backstops.  The brothers pounced on it like those chimps from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
    Emerging from the pizza boxes and soda bottles spilling onto the grass was a sobbing-and filthy-Ronny Koripsky.  He sat miserably amidst the junk and looked fearfully at his tormentors.
    Ronny was a fourth-grader.  Easy pickings, he was probably ambushed as he played innocently on the swings.  
    I shook my head in dismay that a little kid would be so abused.  But, at the same time, I was glad it wasn’t me.
    Donny, on the other hand, had no such qualms.  “Hey, you gorillas!” he shouted, “Why don’t you try and shove me in a garbage can?”
    Like wolves suddenly distracted from wounded prey, the Zowines’ heads snapped upright.  Their beady eyes focused across the field and I swear I saw their ears cocked in our direction.  With horror, I realized they sensed fresh meat. 
    Ronny, seeing his chance to escape, quickly scrambled from underneath the garbage and bolted to the outfield.  I don’t think he stopped until he got home. 
    The bigger Zowine took a step towards us, his brother a few feet behind.
    I grabbed Donny’s sleeve and yanked-hard.  “What the hell is wrong with you?”
    “They can’t do that to little kids and get away with it!”
    “Would you prefer they do it to bigger kids?  Let’s get outta here!”
    Over his protests, I grabbed Donny’s basketball and chucked it at the Zowines, hoping to distract them.  You know, kinda like tossing a pork chop to junkyard dogs.
    No such luck.
    “Hey!  What do you think you’re doing?” Donny cried.
    I turned on my heels and bolted for the entrance.  “A peace offering,” I said.  “One which apparently didn’t work.”
    Chased by howls of frustrated fury, we escaped up the hill away from the park.  Spags, having already fled the scene, waited for us at the top.
    From behind us came an enraged, “Hey, Penwasser!  You and the other dorks stay right there!”
    I turned to see The Incredible Bulks lumbering to the foot of the hill.  Jeez, how’d they move so fast?
    Donny insanely taunted, “Hey!  I didn’t think apes could run so quick!  Don’t your knuckles get in the way?”
    Ignoring Spags’ pleas to leave him as a sacrifice, I grabbed Donny and dragged him with us.  Ducking through a set of hedges, we disappeared through a series of backyards until we could no longer hear our pursuers.
    Emerging a couple blocks later, we glanced both ways before stepping onto the sidewalk.  Firmly believing that discretion was the better part of valor-and bloody noses-we headed even farther away from the park.
    “Well, now what?” I asked.
    Donny started to speak but thought better of it.  I’ll bet the lunatic wanted to go back.
    Spags stated the obvious.  “Park’s out.”
    Then, he thought for a second.  “Hey, how about the tracks?  Maybe we can zing a couple of freight cars.”
    Well, as cheap entertainment went, you could do a lot worse than flinging rocks at trains.  Plus, since the tracks stretched along the busy Boston-New York corridor, there was sure to be an abundance of easy targets.
    At any rate, it sure beat being a Zowine crash test dummy.

To be concluded.....