Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It's An Adventure

  Al here (well, who did you expect?).
  If you're not on the East Coast of the United States, please excuse the following well wishes for a region normally beset by blizzards, urban sprawl, and the cast of The Jersey Shore.  If you'd like, you can move on to the below continuation of my Navy saga.  Or you can stay and feel superior to those of us who are flooded, out of power, and still live next to New Jersey.  Just don't ask for any sympathy from us the next time you have mudslides, wildfires, Kate Winslet, or Al Qaeda decides it's high time for you to go.  You've been warned.
  Anyway, I hope everybody did okay with Hurricane Irene.  We made out pretty well here at Penwasser Place.    Even though we had torrential rain, high winds, and volcano eruptions, our power never went out.  On that note, I'd like to thank the neighbors down the street for letting us sacrifice their virgin child (Luckily, their son was into Dungeons and Dragons) to Power God in Sky for sparing us from spoiled food and no flushing toilets.  Whew!  Unlike Osama Bin Laden, we dodged that bullet.
  Frankly, I think hurricanes blow (NOTE:  that is the last time I use that hideous hurricane joke.  I promise).

We continue.....

You should have seen my beard

1980- Asked to leave the USS America for not buttoning my shirt and refusing to shave that cheesy moustache.

April, 1980- I total my car in an ill-advised late night run to North Carolina to drink on the beach
with my shipmates (hmm, you know, now that I write that, it sounds kinda gay).  I reenlist for four years for a $12,000 bonus.  Yes, the two events are related.
1981- I go on shore duty.  Suffering severe emotional distress at having to button my shirt, I marry Mrs. Penwasser I (aka "Bug-Eyed Ugly Woman").  We are married in the Norfolk Botanical Gardens (should never have picked the "Poison Plants of North America" gazebo) and honeymoon in-no kidding-Disney World (I knew she was frikkin' goofy).  Let's never speak of this again.

"Can I stop sucking in my gut now?"
Oh, yeah, baby, still sportin' the stash.
1981-1984- Navy instructor at the Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach. This was great shore duty.  I learned to play golf (well, actually, I learned I sucked at playing golf), was captain of the bowling team (beer and those cool shirts....what's not to love?), broke my ankle playing softball (resulting in being voted "Most Valuable Player" by my teammates),  set personal record in the Missile Command video game at the pizza parlor, decided to shave my mustache after watching a Flock of Seagulls video (because I was wondering if other people thought I was "effed up" looking, too).  Oh, yeah, I taught electronics to sailors and Marines (I let the Marines use coloring books).
NOTE: Not me. Inserted mainly for effect
1984-  Giving up the good life, I get out of the Navy.  I join the Navy Reserves because I liked the clothes.  But, much to my surprise, I had to get regular haircuts.  Crap!

April, 1985-  Mrs. Penwasser I tells me she "isn't happy" at our 4th anniversary dinner.  When I told her she could have had the fish instead, she insists that wasn't what she meant.  Bitch didn't get dessert.

June, 1985- I meet who will eventually become Mrs. Penwasser II.  In addition to being smokin' hot, she has a cool car.  Saw no downside there.  To show her I was a sexy "keeper" (and to pay my ever-mounting bills),  I take a position as an "Italian Food Transportation Representative."  At Dominos.

1986-Divorce Mrs. Penwasser I, marry Mrs. Penwasser II (NOTE:  I didn't want to wait.  I had a huge load of laundry)  (NOTE ADDENDUM:  Please excuse the previous sexist comment.  I meant to say I was tired of eating cold cuts and Chunky Soup out of the can).

1986- Eerily similar to my "not having any money left" problem from ten years earlier, I reenlist in the Navy.  By this time, Mrs. Penwasser II thrilled to have me out of the house.

To be continued...

Next:  We finish the 1980s (I'm tired and you're probably sick of reading, anyway), break dance into the 1990s, and I'll tell you where I was on 9/11.  Then I retire.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's Not Just a Job

Oh, crap! They left without me!
  35 years ago today, I boarded a train (a train!) in New Haven, Connecticut for Navy boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois (which is almost an hour north of Chicago.  Which is NOT the capital of Illinois.  In which the 's' is silent.).
  Even though I politely pointed out to the kind gentleman at the military processing facility that the airplane was invented in 1903, I was told, "Shut yer f*****g pie hole, dinglef**k. We coulda put yer f*****g a** on a f*****g mule. Now, get on the f*****g train, s***bird!"
  Golly, my recruiter never acted that way.  F**ker.
  Anyway, as the train slowly pulled from the station, I began to wonder if I'd made the right decision.  After all, the next four years seemed like an eternity.  Maybe going to that junior college to major in lawn darts (beer pong hadn't been invented yet) wouldn't have been such a bad idea, after all.
  But, since I had spent my last dollar earned at Dino's Seafood and Cockfight Emporium, I figured I had to do something to put gas in my car, go drinking with my friends (the drinking age was 18 in 1976. It wasn't until my generation screwed it up that it was raised to 21.  Ooops, sorry, our bad), and take my girlfriend out to the drive-in theater (where we heard a lot of movies...wink, wink).
  Of course, it never occurred to me that I would be leaving my car, friends, and girlfriend for the next several months.  Didn't put a whole lot of thought into that decision.  It's probably obvious that I wasn't going into Naval Intelligence.
  Surprisingly, I survived the next four years (can't say the same for the relationship with my girlfriend).  In fact, I pretty much survived the next 29 years (I was actually in active service for 27.  The two years I spent as a Naval Reservist in the mid-80s is a whole 'nother story).
  Rather than bore you with a grossly overlong tale of "I Was There", I thought it better to give you a brief summary of an adventure begun with a foul-mouthed petty officer at a train station.

NOTE: No lenses in the frames.
And my hair has grown back.
1976- Joined the Navy to learn how to repair aviation electronics. Along the way, I learned how to fold my underwear.

1977- During my first port visit to Rio while embarked on my first ship, the USS America, I thought I was doing real good with the first ladies I met. Until they asked for money up front. Ohhhhhh....

1978- 'Saturday Night Fever' comes out, Vietnam attacks Cambodia, my girlfriend breaks up with me. Coincidence? I think not.
  Oh yeah. I'm promoted to Petty Officer Third Class.  Now I can at the "Big Boy" Swearing Table.

1979- John Wayne dies, there's a fuel shortage, we visit Alexandria, Egypt (man, that place is old), my ship enters the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth (as opposed to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine.  Those Navy guys with their wacky names!).
  Then, after the hostages are taken in Tehran, Ayatollah Khomeini protests, "You think I'm nuts?? Wait till you meet that Ahmadinejad guy!"

Sure, the statue behind me is way cool and all.  But, check out my wicked cool velour shirt and corduroy pants.  Speaking of....velour and corduroy???'s frikkin' hot out here!!

Petty Officer Al Penwasser rockin' that cool 70's Porn Star Stash and those hip sideburns!

1979: The Very First "Tying My Shoe" picture-Rome, Italy

To be continued.....

Next:  The 1980s-Shore Duty, Marriage, Divorce, Marriage, and A Flock of Seagulls.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tying My Shoe-Paris

    It was the late 1970s.
Seriously, you all suck.
    The Camp David Accords were signed after Anwar Sadat lost a marathon “Rock, Scissors, Paper” match to Menachim Begin, the Ayatollah Khomeini kicked off epic “Death to America Part I” mini-series in the streets of Tehran, Russia was still the Soviet Union and not the trailer park of Europe, OPEC gave the finger to millions of frustrated American motorists who had no idea whether their license plates ended in an odd or even number, Jimmy Carter used his cardigan sweater to tell us we all sucked, and Michael Jackson was still black.
You'll just feel a Close Encounter of the Fourth Kind

    The country was gripped firmly (or should that be "firmly gripped"?  Take our poll now!) in the stranglehold of disco,  Mike Brady got a curly perm, Mr. T pitied the fool, Battle of the Planets premiered (Pluto lost big-time), the Donny and Marie Show was cancelled (causing Marie to eat Donny, thus causing her to become "too much" country), Nintendo unveiled disastrous Space Invaders Anal Probe, ABBA was taken to court for being too white (acquitted after a young Johnny Cochrane’s masterful use of the “Pat Boone” defense), and, really, Michael Jackson was still black.
    I was a young sailor during those days when the Bee Gees were king and Elton John was queen.  Seeking solace from the turbulence which swirled about my head like so many groupies at a Grateful Dead concert (NOTE: I love similes), I did the best thing I could do to escape:  I took pictures of me tying my shoe.
"I've got you, babe!"
"Actually, Sonny, that'd be 'I've got me, babe!'"
    I’ve no idea what caused me ask others to do this.  Maybe it was my way of standing apart from a faceless crowd draped in head to toe polyester.  Maybe it was a playful attempt to lighten up the mood of a society still traumatized by the Vietnam debacle and the Sonny and Cher divorce (Little Known Facts:  Sonny's real name was 'Salvatore' and their daughter started out as a girl).
    Or maybe I just couldn't keep my shoes tied.
    Anyway, I plan on showing you some of these pictures whenever I can't think of anything else to write to give you a little insight into what it is that makes me tick.  If you can figure that out, please let me know at (which, frankly, you should already know, because you're here).
    And to brag that I've been to very neat places.  And New Jersey. 
    Our first picture shows me tying my shoe with the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop.  For those of you raised in the Detroit School System, that would be in Paris.  For those from Louisiana, that would be in France.
    Interestingly enough (or maybe not so interesting), this picture was snapped during the events I described in my Is It Art? vacation post (NOTE:  An you know, my vacation was in the Dominican Republic, which has just suffered through Hurricane Irene).  

    So, while it's not necessary to understand this post, reading Is It Art? will give context to this photo.  Go ahead.  I'll wait. 
    Yeah, right.  I'll bet most people never click on the embedded links in other bloggers' posts.   "That hideous Penwasser is lucky I'm even reading this!"
    But, seriously, it is kinda funny.  You really don't need to read it, though.
    In any case, the below picture was snapped in Paris.  I asked my fellow mavens (NOTE:  rhymes with 'ravens', but is not even close to meaning the same thing.  I think) of European culture to take a picture of me in front of the Eiffel Tower (the line in front of the sculpture of Napoleon made from cheese was too long).
    Thinking that I was going to pose for a traditional shot, they were shocked when I bent down to tie my shoe.
    Still, they took the shot anyways when I shouted, "No, really, go!"
    So, my trip to Paris was made official.
    Just before that dog on the right jumped me from behind and started to hump me.
    Geez, even French dogs don't like Americans.
    Or, come to think of it, maybe they do.
    In any case, he didn't call the next morning.
Vive Les Chaussures!
Nice doggie.

NOTE:  As a lot of you are aware, Hurricane Irene is fixin' to (Note-Within-A-Note: Please note my use of the regional vernacular 'fixin to.' This is meant as an homage to my friends from the great American South, who are much more than BBQ and bib overalls.  Take a bow!) lay a whuppin' on the Eastern Seaboard (of the United States, Detroit).  Since I live on the aforemetioned seaboard (well, Pennsylvania. Close enough for hand grenades and natural disasters), I may very well lose power come the dawn Sunday.  Which means I won't be able to read/comment on your blogs which means I won't be able to watch television which means I may have to actually talk with Mrs. Penwasser which means she may think "Why the frig did I marry this guy?  He's a moron.).Of course, the hurricane may come and go with nary (Another-Note-Within-A-Note:  Rare use of the word 'nary' above the Mason-Dixon line) a peep (Last-Note-Within-A-Note-I-Promise: a 'peep' is also a delicious marshmallow treat from Easter which looks nothing like a chicken).  In that case, I can read and comment on your blogs.  And probably stay married.
Sorry, Judas forgot the Youdammed peeps

NOTE:  I said nothing about regular NOTES.  You may have figured out this is a delayed post.  So, sue me.  There's a frikkin' hurricane comin'!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Once Upon a Time at Camp-The Conclusion

It was a lot of fun until those kids from the Palestinian Camp insisted we were in their woods illegally.
But, we gave them some s'mores and they left us alone 

Shoulda thought of mousetraps
    By far, our favorite part of camp was the lake.  Whether it was swimming, canoeing, sailing, or ripping bathing suits off fat kids, the waterfront was a welcome break from the rest of the wooded gulag.
    Plus, mosquitoes don’t swim and poison ivy is wonderfully absent when you’re up to your neck in water the color of a melted brown crayon.  (“Don’t worry, kids,” we were told, “it’s a natural result of the summer’s heat reacting to water’s inherent chemical properties.  It has nothing whatsoever to do with that paper mill upstream.”).
Nip Tuck, the exchange kid from
Our Lady of  the Demilitarized Zone, kicked our ass
    The highlight of the week was the Waterfront Regatta.  Naturally, it featured bonafide competitions like swimming and boat races.  As fun as those were, our favorites were Whose Trunks Are These?, Dead Fish Toss, and Synchronized Underwater Farting.
    Sadly, our group lost the regatta when Timmy suffered acute gastrointestinal distress during the final heat of the Spam-On-A-Spoon Dog Paddle competition.  His colorful-yet explosive-underwater discharge closed down an entire section of beach, halting the day’s events.  On the bright side, he did manage to feed the fish.
Danny Thomas: Noted Catholic,
father of Marlo Thomas, and dead person
    It was just as well, though, because all the winners got was a set of rosary beads made from acorns, a Life of the Saints coloring book, and an 8X10 glossy of Danny Thomas.     
    As quickly as twenty years on Death Row, the day finally came for us to leave.  Carrying our memories, sharp sticks, and a week’s worth of dirty laundry, Spags, Donny, and I bid our companions farewell and piled into the Spagnoula’s red VW beetle.    

    Following an uneventful two hours which saw all of us drift off to sleep (except, thankfully, Mr. Spagnoula), we pulled into my driveway.  After saying a quick goodbye to the still-sleeping Spags and Donny, I jumped from the car. 
    Bursting through the front door, I was oblivious to my family’s welcomes.  All thoughts were focused on where I should first go.
    My mind swirled as I tried to determine my first course of action.  Rejecting all other possibilities, I finally decided.
    My room?  Nossir.
    Refrigerator?  Naw.
    Cookie jar?  Nope.
    Television?  Uh, uh.
    Taking two steps at a time, I dashed upstairs to the bathroom.
    Home at last.
    And I wouldn’t even need a flashlight and can of insect repellent.
Camp, schamp 

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blogs

Thursday, August 25, 2011

This Just In

  I know, I know, you're looking at this post's title and saying, "That's what she said."

  Anyway, lucky for you, I have to go off to work (hence the need for pants this morning) so I have pretty much no time to chat with you.  Less of me=good for you.
  But, before I toddle off to regale my coworkers of tales of the summer I've just experienced (tales which you've of which you've had a regular dose for the past few months-once again, lucky you), it is incumbent upon me to let you know that Robyn Engel, she of the "Life By Chocolate" blog (which is not so cleverly named as the Nancy S. Thompson blog written by....oh, I'm sure you know by now) has written a post which is a send-up of that game show from the 1960s, The Dating Game (which to me was pretty much a sanitized meat market thing).
  Read it here:  The Mating Game

  Trust me, you'll have a laugh!

  That's it, gotta floss, gotta wash the undercarriage (I know....ewwwwwwwww), and throw on a tie (with shirt this time).

  See you tomorrow (I have Friday off-no sense getting all crazy going back to work).


Once Upon a Time at Camp Part IV

"I'm gonna cut that guy who came up with beets"
    The next morning’s Outdoor Crafts was meant to show us how to make something out of nothing.  In reality, the whole thing boiled down to Whittling, or Making Pointed Sticks.
    For, despite our very best efforts to build a rocket ship out of marsh reeds, a sweater out of beaver pelts, or soup out of guano, it was painfully obvious that, if pressed to fend for ourselves, we’d freeze to death and starve.
    You’d think the staff would’ve figured that out after Pioneering.
OK, who's the jackass that forgot a toilet?
    Knot-Tying and Lashing, while not teaching us anything cool like how to tie a hangman’s noose, did show us how to create some pretty sturdy structures.  Which would come in handy if we ended up as homeless people who lived in signal towers in High Park.
What? Nothing to frikkin' read!?
    The oddest thing we had to construct was something I knew we’d never use:  an outdoor latrine.  Lashing a wooden frame over a hole we’d dug out earlier, we were told they’d be just the thing if caught in the woods without suitable facilities.
    As impressive as it was, I realized it would be used as much as a diaphragm at the Octo-Mom’s house.  If the call of nature ever hit me while moseying around the woods, no way would I squat like some lunatic goony bird on a wooden perch.  Not while there were plenty of bushes to be had.
    Nights at camp gave us a chance to work on our sharp sticks, gamble for cheezits, listen to endless renditions of-what else?-Layla (Sugar, Sugar long since ended its life at the skeet range), and try to keep Timmy’s last pair of shoes away from the fire.
    Nighttimes were also a great time to toss small woodland creatures into the latrine, watch The Great Jimmy Woznick Fart Lighting Show, and tell outrageously bawdy stories whenever Father Karl wasn’t in earshot.
    Following a particularly uproarious story about the consequences of giving certain body parts ridiculously improbable nicknames, we then proceeded to regale each other with the most horrific ghost stories imaginable. 
    Usually involving someone’s golden arm or a zombie who lived under our beds, it was great fun until some wise guy swore he heard there was an escape at a local insane asylum.
Seriously, anybody got any Bactine?
    Forgetting the fact that the closest psychiatric hospital was in New York, we fled to the safety of our tents.  Zipping up tight, we kept a watchful eye on the tree line-pointy sticks at the ready-until we fell asleep. 
    Only to be rudely shaken awake by that damn owl which made Timmy wet his sleeping bag. 
    Jeez, between that, melted sneakers, and a case of poison ivy that made him look like the Elephant Man, he really wasn’t having a good week.

To be concluded (thank God)...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Once Upon a Time at Camp Part III

 How's everybody doing so far?  Pretty easy to follow along?  I hope so.  I had to pay extra to put in the "Part" number after the title of this blog.  But, like two-ply toilet paper, I figured it was worth the expense.   

NOTE: Repeat from 'Ode To a Flushing Toilet'

    After finally getting our tent squared away and listening to what, I’m sure, would be the first of countless renditions of Layla, I settled on a log to watch Timmy build a bonfire.  Oblivious to the suspicious looking plants poking through the campfire ring’s cold ashes, he happily piled on the abundant dead wood found in our campsite.
    Evidently, trees came to die at Mattatuck.
    Oblivious to the fact that the nearest water was fifty yards away, he collected all the combustible material he could lay his hands on.  Tossing a lit camp brochure into the middle of the mass of brush, he watched little tongues of flames race around his creation. 
Could been worse. Coulda been mine.
    The resulting conflagration lit up the campsite like a flare.  Not only would it scorch anything within twenty feet, I bet it had something to do with that airplane that kept circling overhead.
    As we watched this pyromaniac’s wet dream blaze into the darkening sky, we relaxed.
    That is, until we noticed Timmy had set his brand new pair of sneakers a little too close to the flames.
    Funny how quickly rubber melts.

    The following morning, we were rudely awakened by Father Karl.  Already shaven and showered (showers?), he paraded through our campsite with an air horn and outrageously chipper cries of “Rise and shinnnnne and give God your glory, glory!” 
    Reluctant to emerge from the warm cocoon of my sleeping bag, I wondered if it would be okay with God if we gave him a later wake-up call instead of our "glory, glory."
    After slipping into yesterday’s clothes (which doubled as pillows), we groggily shuffled to breakfast.  Hoping for a feast, we were instead treated to runny eggs, cold bacon, charred Wonder Bread, and a pitcher of syrupy sweet orangeade which we christened Bug Juice.     
Ditto repeat on this picture.
You think it's easy using Google?
    After washing down our sandpaper toast with the ghastly bug juice, we embarked on the first event of the roller-coaster summer camp experience.  Father Karl promised us “can’t-miss” fun in addition to teaching us invaluable life lessons, such as “people are flammable” and you shouldn’t say, “Here, kitty, kitty” to a skunk.
    He said we were going to experience how Jesus felt when he wandered the wilderness.
    Oh, I didn’t like the sound of that.
"Hey, I know we're lost and all. But, how 'bout you get dressed?
That wetsuit is totally skeeving me out."
    Enter Pioneering, also known as Getting Lost in the Woods.  For pioneering, we were piled like livestock into a couple of ancient pick-up trucks, driven through miles of deeply rutted roads to a malarial swamp.  Once there, we were given a map, compass, and a hearty “Good luck” by a wild-eyed counselor named Chuck.
    Cackling insanely as he sped away in a cloud of dust and blue smoke, Chuck left us stranded in the middle of nowhere. 
    Completely alone.  Unless you counted the swarms of mosquitoes that were only too glad to say “Howdy!” to our bloodstreams.
"I'll take the fat one."
    Ignoring the turkey buzzards which circled ominously above our heads and the bleached skeleton of...something, we decided we’d better get moving, if only so we wouldn’t miss the scrumptious theme dinner that evening.
    How bad could it be, we asked ourselves.  After all, Pioneering was touted as a “fun adventure using only your tools and wits to survive.”
    Although-and I may be a nitpicker here-should the words fun and survive ever be in the same sentence?
    Luckily, despite resembling giant bug bite Connect-the-Dots puzzles and my own unfortunate discovery that some leaves aren’t good to wipe with, we survived the Quinnamuc Death March and staggered into the dining hall late that afternoon.
    Just in time for Potted Meat Food Product Night.
To be continued....
Well, what did you expect??   

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Once Upon a Time at Camp Part II

NOTE:  Please excuse the multi-part aspect of this post.  I've decided to present my Camp Opus to you in this manner so that you're not taxed with a longwinded essay of life spent in the woods (and thus, being bored, you're off to find that adorable "Charlie Bit Me" video instead).  Plus, since this has already been written, I can pop off a couple of posts while I go off to work.  But, hey, I've included plenty of pictures!  By the way, as of tomorrow, I'll have to put on pants and sally forth to earn some money.  You may notice that I won't be here as often as I have been this summer.

"Let's it 'swill' on this table and 'slop' on that one?
    The evening meal gave us a chance to interact with the staff.  Sullen teenagers, they were nothing like what we saw in the charming literature passed out by Sister Edward Agnes in May:  A Pastoral Camp Setting Staffed by a Cheerful Corps of Outdoor Professionals!
    Following evening prayer, led by the Senior SAP, the grumpy Monsignor Hudak, we dug into the first of a week-long series of theme meals. 
Ya know, starving kids in Detroit
would still throw this crap away!
    “Oh, Goody-Beets!” was both lavish in its presentation and bizarrely creative in the many different ways one could prepare ground tubers.
    “I don’t know about you guys,” I complained, “but no matter how much ketchup I use, I can’t get away from the fact that I’m eating purple roots.”
    After dinner, we shuffled gloomily back to our campsite.  Called Mattatuck which, in the original Algonquin means “Land of Few Trees,” it actually was devoid of any significant plant life.  Resembling the Tgunska blast site more than a “pastoral camp setting,” Mattatuck consisted only of a half-dozen canvas mosquito condominiums ringing a weed-choked stone campfire. 
Yeah. A lot like that.
    When I asked where the bathrooms were, I was directed to a small wooden latrine tucked behind a boulder painted with a Smiley face wearing an Indian headress. 
    Hmmph, more like “Land of Few Toilets,” if you ask me.
    After choosing the tent with the fewest amount of holes and mold, we furiously brushed it clean of pinecones which littered it like potato chips in Phil’s bed.  Skittering here and there were dozens of panicky Daddy Longlegs which, Spags gravely informed us, were the deadliest spiders known to man.
NOTE: Actual Daddy-Longlegs do NOT wear masks.
    “Don’t worry,” he continued as a freaked-out Donny played Whack-A-Mole with every one he spotted, “their mouths are way too small to hurt you, though.”
    Little comfort to Teddy “Spindle Arms” Williams, who slept with a flashlight on the whole week.
    Joining us was a moonfaced 7th-grader named Timmy Dolan.  No stranger to wedgies, Timmy looked familiar.  As I watched him set up his inhaler bottles, it dawned on me. 
    Oh, yeah, I remembered seeing him hanging upside down from the monkey bars at High Park.  I didn’t immediately recognize him because he had his underwear pulled over his head at the time. 
    So, I guess he met the Zowine brothers.
    Living quarters swept clear of the most noisome of God’s creatures, Donny began rolling his sleeping bag out on one of the rusty bunk frames.  With a soft grunt, he dumped his duffel bag onto the cot and began rifling through it.
    He pulled out a portable record player.  It was kind of beat up and had a couple of pennies taped to the top of the needle arm, so I guess it was old.  Plus, it was pink and covered in Tiger Beat stickers, so I guess it was his sister’s.  I hope.
    “I told you guys I had tunes!”
    I looked at what appeared to be an empty bag sitting next to him.  “How many records you bring, Don?”
    He shoved his hand into the bag.  “Like I said, I got plen-uh, oh.”
    In his hands were only two records.
    Spags frowned.  “You’re kidding me.  Don’t tell me you only brought two.”
    “Guess I forgot.”
    I shook my head.  “Which ones are they?”
    He looked at the labels.  “Layla, by Derek and the Dominoes...”
NOTE: "Hot Dog" not as cool-or annoying-as "Scooby
Doo".  Same could be said for "Jughead" and "Velma."
    “Well, that’s not bad.  What else?”
    “Sugar, Sugar.”
    Spags gasped.  “By the Archies!?”
    Donny sputtered, “I, uh, yeah.”
    Before he and Spags came to blows over the finest animated musicians this side of Josie and the Pussycats, I stepped in.  “Well, that figures, doesn’t it?” I said.
    Spags swung around.  “What do you mean?”
    I pointed at the red-faced Donny.  “Who else would bring the Archies but Jughead?”

To be continued....

Monday, August 22, 2011

Once Upon a Time at Camp Part I

  Holey, moley!  Where'd the summer go, huh? One minute, I'm bitching about not getting an invitation to the Royal Wedding and the next I'm bitching about not getting invited to Kim Kardashian's big shindig.
  The lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer are finally drawing to a close.  This week I actually have to go back to work; I'm not complaining, mind you. It's just that I won't have as much time to read/comment on your posts.  While, at the same time, complaining to Mrs. Penwasser that I didn't have enough time to cut the grass, prepare dinner, wash the car, do the laundry, make the bed, fix the garbage disposal, water the garden, arrange my socks, flush the toilet, or bathe.
  Anyway, the life of Riley (gotta meet that guy) comes to an end very shortly.  But, I first thought I'd take us all back to those halcyon (I love that word!) days when it wasn't my wife who accused me of being a slug, but my mom.
  Whaddya say?  Let's go to camp!

Seriously, I'm going to save up
and buy me that mustache
    In the 19th Century, a man named Henry David Thoreau spent two years at Walden Pond in Massachusetts.
Shoulda ate more than nuts
and berries, Henry
    His rhapsodic description of this idyllic wooded site sparked a hopeful glimmer amidst the gloom of the early Industrial Revolution.  Writing wistfully of the glories of nature, he enthralled those who would seek bliss among the trees.
    Evidently, he’d never been to Quinnamuc Wilderness Reservation.
Archery range.
Ha, ha. Very funny.
    Nestled in the wilderness of northwestern Connecticut, Quinnamuc was a hundred acre enclave catering to the youth of the Archdiocese of Bridgeport.  Promoted as a refuge from the evils of the secular world, it drew heavily upon tenets of the Catholic faith.  This, I suppose, explained the Simon Peter Fishing Lodge and the holy water fonts at the Saint Sebastian Archery Range
    Although, I think the Joan of Arc Campfire Sing-A-Longs were in poor taste.
    Each year, as July slid sleepily toward August, Spags and I joined likeminded lemmings from St. Stanislaus for a week basking in the aforementioned glories of nature juxtaposed against a panorama of ecclesiastic rusticism. 
    That we had about as much fun as Jesuits at a booby bar was beside the point.
    The first day was the worst as this when we actually came face-to-face with The Great Outdoors
    And Father Karl.  On loan to the camp, he was our “Senior Activities Programmer” or SAP.
    The SAP remained with his group throughout their stay.  He coordinated activities schedules and maintained liaison with the camp staff.  He was also there to help us develop an appreciation for the wonders of the natural world and ministered to us in all crises of faith or bedwetting.
Could someone close the damn door!?
    Plus, he kept us from using frogs as wiffleballs and tossing firecrackers into the latrines.   
    “Great, now my summer is complete.” Spags whispered crankily as Father Karl, nattily dressed in flannel shirt and baggy khaki shorts, bade us welcome.
    “Ah, Al,” Father Karl smirked, “good to see you.  I thought I heard your father’s car at the camp entrance."
    While Father Karl greeted the rest of our group, we glumly scanned the campsite.  It slowly dawned on us that we had once more made a horrible mistake.  Over the past year, we’d forgotten how much we hated this place. 
    However, since my father barely slowed down as he pushed us from the car, we knew we were stuck. paper!
    As legions of mosquitoes saw “Open For Business” on my forearms, Father Karl cheerily announced that it was time to head to the Fishes and Loaves Mess Hall for supper.
    “Because,” he breezily said, “the Lord loves a healthy appetite!”
    As I sourly looked at a campsite which would make a Spartan call the ACLU, I decided the Lord wasn’t too fond of electricity, though.  

To be continued....

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I Am So Hacked Off

  Now, I'm getting stiffed from Kim Kardashian.

Bad enough these two blew me off and didn't invite me to their wedding....

  I was hoping that was only because they're British and still held a grudge from that whole Yorktown thing.  Besides, they had to put up with Madonna.  So, I get it.
  But, Kim Kardashian is an American.  Whose father is the Olympian, Bruce Jenner (by the way, ole Bruce looks like he's been rode hard and put away wet.  I can kinda understand that, though.  Have you seen his family?).
  So, that makes me 0-2 for 2011 weddings.
  Luckily, I'm invited to my niece's wedding in October.
  I hope.
  Wonder if she'll like that plaid melon-baller set I got for Wills and Kate?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

As If Dropping My Son Off At College Wasn't Bad Enough

Traffic on the way home was a little challenging.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ode To a Flushing Toilet

   As most of you know, the “Annual Penwasser Brothers Camping Trip” (strangely, none of the women in our family ever want to go) was held this year at Burlingame State Park in Charlestown, Rhode Island.
  It was three days spent reveling in the glories of nature, the camaraderie of one’s family, and the freedom of relieving one’s self in the woods.
  Even though my son and I returned home two weeks ago, I haven’t had a chance to tell you much about our trip.  Due to other family requirements, answering “Blogger” awards, bathroom remodeling, and creative mental lethargy, it wasn’t until today that I actually had a chance to sit down to write.
  The below is a poetic summary of our idylls in the great outdoors.  Similar to Thoreau’s Walden (in that both have trees), I wanted to share with you my personal epiphanies that nothing is so beautiful as a tree (or toilet paper) and you should never wipe with a plant that has three leaves.
  I wish I had more time, but I am off yet again.  Only this time, it’s with sadness that I leave.  For I’m taking my son to Virginia Tech where he’s studying to be an engineer.
  Despite my initial disappointment that he won’t be the type of engineer who drives trains (I really wanted one of those bitchin’ hats), I am at peace knowing he’ll eventually be able to get himself a high-paying job.
  And be able to afford putting us all up at a swanky Rhode Island resort instead of grubbing around a filthy campground.    

Camping Limerick
If this tent is rockin', it's frikkin' windy out
There once were six brothers and sons
Who thought camping would be great fun.
So they loaded up their gear
and plenty of beer.
Leaves of three, do not pee
But, when looking for toilets, saw none.

Camping Haiku

Unplanned thunderstorms
Make my underwear soggy
Stupid frikkin’ rain!

As if ANYbody believes those red cups hold soda
Camping Cinquain

Canned beer
No alcohol allowed
We Use Red Cups

Camping Epitaph

Here I pee,
hand on junk.
Didn’t see
the goddamned skunk.

Camping Quatrain

Hamburgs, hot dogs, beans, and chips
Potato salad, queso dip
Our cooking skills not world-reknowned
Tomorrow, it’s pizza out in town.

Camping Diamante

Exciting, Exhilarating
Hiking, Playing, Swimming
Games, Beach, Beer, Doughnuts
Drinking, Eating, Farting
Lazy, Listless

Camping Acrostic

                            Red Cups hold forbidden           
                               FArting contests under
                               the stars.
                                Men being men with  
                                other men.  Wow, that      
                                sounds kinda gay.
                                Peeing next to a tree
                                in the dark.  Or on
                                your brother’s tent.
What else can we toss into the fIre?
       Have you guys been drinkiNg?
         Not anymore.  It’s all Gone.