Showing posts from March, 2009

Good Humor Me

Tell me, do some things seem smaller than what you remember, or did they just seem bigger because YOU were small?

Probably a little bit of both. But you can strap me to a lie detector, make me swear on a stack of Bibles, and have me stand on the grave of my father. In all instances, I'll tell you that the Good Humor bar is smaller than it once was.

This isn't another example of a bug-eyed kid whose recollection, as an adult, has become skewed over time.

Grab me a rosary and stick it in my hands. Make me look my mother right in the peepers. Threaten to swipe my first (and only) born if I'm lying.

The Good Humor bar is shrinking.

This atrocity made itself present in our home last week. My lovely wife came home with two boxes of Good Humor bars -- Toasted Almond and Chocolate Eclair -- and it was enough to make me undress her with my stomach.

First, I must enlighten the babes among my readers. The older folks, bear with me. This won't take long.

The Good Humor ice cream truck to…

The Big O

So Oprah Winfrey is sharing the cover of her magazine. Finally.

It's not enough that she has a TV show Mondays thru Fridays. Not enough that she's now become one of those one-name celebrities, who could just sign a check "Oprah" and every bank in the country would know it came from her. Not enough that she has a magazine that sports her initial.

The Big O.

There are three Big Os that I've known in my life. There was basketball great Oscar Robertson. There's that thing that the luckiest of women sometimes get to enjoy. And there's Oprah.

For a lot of women, Oprah takes care of that other Big O, I think -- the one not involving Oscar Robertson.

No, it hasn't been enough for Ms. Winfrey, all that. She has to stick herself on the cover of every danged issue of "O" Magazine.

I've always thought that was weird.

What kind of insatiable ego needs to be splashed on the cover of every issue of her own magazine? What kind of ego needs to HAVE their own ma…

Mail Nursing

The Post Office is about to go out of business.

Well, not exactly, but they're hurtin', for certain.

The postmaster general says the mail folks are hemorrhaging money, and layoffs are in the offing. Unless, get this, we can go down to five days delivery per week.

Now, the punch line. There's actual debate going on as to what day gets lopped off the schedule.

Altogether now: SATURDAY...DUH!!!

I wouldn't miss mail on Saturdays, not one iota. To be truthful, if it wasn't for the fact that as a freelancer I depend on the mail to deliver my checks, I wouldn't miss the mail at all. Not much good has been coming from the letter carrier these days.

But to even vascillate over which day to NOT deliver mail? That seems kinda kooky, to me.

Why on Earth would you consider any day OTHER than Saturday?

You mean you'd actually consider a day during the work/business week? Now that's just plain nuts.

Checks, as I mentioned, come in the mail, for those of us not adorned with dir…


It's never too early to think about the next presidential election. So says me.

But it's pretty much a fact anymore. Folks start running for president in their minds like right about now, then run for president among their closest confidantes about a year from now, and then run for president publicly a year after that, if not sooner.

2012 will be here before you know it. The first quarter of 2009 is almost done, to show you. Easter beckons and I'm still thinking that I just handed out Halloween candy a few weeks ago.

So I reckon the Republicans better get someone cleaned up, pressed and dressed. Soon. Because if things don't change, Barack Obama will make the Nixon-McGovern thing look like a nailbiter.

A trip around the GOP...

Eric Cantor? The dweeb from Virginia? Please.

Bobby Jindal, the boy governor from Louisiana? Not after he channeled Mister Rogers in his rebuttal to Obama's almost-State of the Union speech last month.

Arnold Schwarzenegger? Go ahead and change the …

Used Book Smart

If I didn't have a wife, a daughter, and the need to earn a living, I believe I could survive with two things: a used bookstore, and a bathroom. And maybe a chair. But don't go searching for one on my account.

I have a thing for used bookstores. Seriously. Some folks, when they arrive in a new town, seek out a cool bar or a trendy restaurant. Or a copy of USA Today. I go looking for the nearest used bookstore.

Oh, I've done that -- so don't go calling me a liar. I've done it in St. Louis, New York, and Chicago. And I'd do it in Peoria and Fort Myers and Altoona, if I ever found myself in those burgs.

It's daycare for me. If you ever need to ditch me while you go off with other, more exciting people -- like, say, for a week or two -- then simply drop me at the steps of the nearest used bookstore and have yourself a great time in my absence.

But I'm warning you -- I'll fight you to the death when it's time for me to leave.

I don't even know when I …


Was watching the idiot box the other day -- that would be the television for those born after 1980 -- and the actress Kate Hudson flashed on the screen. It was one of those moments when the thoughts broke out of their prison cell in my brain and tumbled out of my mouth.

"Boy, she looks just like her mom," I said, referring to Goldie Hawn. No one else was in the room, so my observation went unabated.

Then I thought -- well, yeah, who else would she look like?

We do that all the time, you know. Doesn't even have to be anyone famous, either. We seem to be shocked when children have physical traits of one or both of their parents.

"My, you look JUST LIKE your dad!"

"She's a spitting image of her mom!"

"She's got his eyes and her mouth."

Gee, I hope so!

Seems as if we should be more put out if kids DIDN'T look like their folks. That's when the eyebrows should be raised. But you'd be a candidate for Miss Manners' Ten Most Wanted if…


I'm not sure where I sit on the fence of gun control, but the next time you see one of them fire by itself, let me know.

I'm all for folks being able to defend themselves, lawfully -- even if the notion of having a firearm in the house scares the bejeebers out of me. But the Constitution says we can possess them. Only 200 years later and some change did we add some things about needing to prove that you weren't insane, etc. before you were allowed to purchase one.

Somehow a whole bunch of crazies, though, seem to have guns these days.

A family gunned down by an estranged husband of one of the victims. A quartet of Oakland police officers, two of them SWAT, riddled with bullets by an ex-con with an assault weapon. Three of them dead, a fourth feared brain dead. Another family wiped out by its patriarch, despondent over finances.

And that was just last week.

What in the name of Chuck Heston is going on around here?

Not that it would be more tolerable if these shooters were armed m…


So what do you say to the Leader of the Free World when he sits down on your talk show set?

"Good to see ya!"

Yeah -- why not?

Jay Leno hosted President Barack Obama last night on The Tonight Show. And it started out like any other guest appearance. Obama might as well have been Brad Pitt or Julia Roberts, pumping a new movie.

Obama, for his part, launched into a funny story about landing in California the day before. Like he was a stand-up comic.

Obama was charming, dashing, inspiring, and relaxed. As usual. If he hadn't made the occasional reference that he was the president, you'd have thought you stepped into a time machine and were taken back to the campaign trail.

Memo to Barack: you got the job. You can quit campaigning for it now.

That's not a criticism, just an observation. I love hearing Obama speak. He's the first president, in my lifetime, who I'll stop what I'm doing when I hear his voice. And I was the biggest Bill Clinton fan in the world, at …

Talk and Die

Natasha Richardson was suffering from "talk and die" syndrome. Only, she was aware of the "talk" part -- but not at all about the "die" part.

The fact that Richardson, the respected and world-renowned actress, is dead now at the age of 45 simply because she fell and hit her head on a beginner's ski slope, is difficult to comprehend.

The doctors call it "talk and die" syndrome, and if that sounds like the title of a Grade B horror movie, you're right. But it's also a legitimate condition, potentially, of someone who has suffered trauma to their skull -- no matter how innocuous that trauma initially appeared to be.

What happens is that the brain gets jarred around in the skull, and the victim, right after the contact, doesn't feel any symptoms. Then, blood starts to seep out in all the wrong places between the brain and the skull, and that's when things can go sideways in a hurry.

"Talk and die" syndrome is what killed Na…

VJ Days

I'm 45, which means I'm old enough to remember when MTV played music videos. VH-1, too.

Means I know what a VJ is, and that Don Imus and Rosie O'Donnell were once colleagues at VH-1.

I haven't watched MTV in years, maybe going on decades. VH-1 hasn't exactly been part of my viewing list, either. There was a brief spike in my VH-1 viewership when the show "Pop-Up Video" debuted, because I thought that concept was as cool as hell. But aside from that, meh.

It didn't used to be that way.

I was smitten with MTV in the early-1980s, shortly after it burst onto the scene. Radio on TV!

That's basically what it was. Only you could SEE the on-air talent, instead of having to imagine what they looked like. Some of the names, I'm sure, might resonate with some of you. Nina Blackwood. Alan Hunter. Mark Goodman. JJ Jackson. Martha Quinn.

They were young-ish -- late-20s, early-30s -- and they were basically disc jockeys on TV. Hence the brand new moniker of VJ -- …

Credit-Only Lane

President Harry S Truman was known to have a placard on his desk that read, "The Buck Stops Here." It's a down-and-dirty assertion, meaning quite simply: no excuses; SOMEONE has to take full responsibility, and it may as well be me, the President of the United Freaking States.

I've always maintained that the last thing the American people want to hear from their leaders in times of need and uncertainty is, "Hey, don't look at ME!", or, "Not MY fault!"

Dick Cheney was the second-best vice president this country has ever had. Of course, everyone else is tied for first, so there you go. Cheney makes Spiro Agnew and Dan Quayle look like Mt. Rushmore candidates.

Cheney, who won't go away, was doing the Sunday morning talk show boogie the other day. Naturally, the economy came up. It tends to do that these days.

Despite eight years of rule in the White House -- and with Cheney I do mean RULE -- the thankfully-ex-veep didn't invoke Truman's p…

The Paper Chase

The way I figure it, the Detroit Free Press could have saved themselves a lot of trouble and backlash if they had just kept paper boys in the first place.

You probably know the back story: in an apparent move to save some money -- presumably in the area of delivery overhead -- the newspaper, along with the Detroit News, will be reducing the number of days it home delivers. Beginning March 30, the only days you can find a paper on your front porch -- or in your bushes or elsewhere, depending on the quality of your delivery person -- will be Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. Otherwise, it's off to the nearest coin box or gas station or 7-Eleven, if you want an actual hard copy.

Or -- gasp! -- you can peruse the newspaper online, in a version that will "look like" the actual paper, sans the ink stains on your fingers. You can also receive a same-day copy in the mail.

I'm still not getting how this saves money. The paper will still be printed seven days a week -- just not deliv…

Umm, Sorry?

Bernie Madoff is sorry. Ashamed. His words.

Madoff, maybe the most appropriately-surnamed criminal in the history of the world, faces up to 150 years in prison for bilking a staggering amount of money from a staggering amount of investors in a staggeringly successful Ponzi scheme. He set a world's record for it, the historians say.

But he's sorry.

Sorry he got caught, I figure. Ashamed that he let down the Grifting Gods.

"Sorry" is what you say when you accidentally bump into someone's cart at the grocery store. Or hurt someone's feelings with a caustic, insensitive remark.

I'm not sure what the word is for systematically, and for years, robbing folks blind after gaining their trust, but it sure ain't "sorry."

I do know, however, two words for Madoff's apology.

If this was, at the same time, a fair and more barbaric society, Madoff would be handcuffed to his seat in the courtroom and every investor would be allowed thirty seconds with him.


Electile Dysfunction

They like to say about Michigan weather, "If you don't like it, wait five minutes. It'll change."

In Detroit, if you don't like the mayor, wait five minutes. Because HE'S likely to change.

They're holding elections and primaries in Detroit these days as if the city clerk is being paid by the leaflet.

They should install a revolving door in the mayor's office in the City County Building downtown. And an ejection seat behind the desk.

Disgraced Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick -- and judging by his behavior, I'd say the "disgraced" part is in OUR eyes, not his -- was forced out of office last summer. By charter, the City Council President -- in this case Ken Cockrel Jr. -- takes over.

That's where it gets funky, and where the city's new fetish for bugling people to the polls begins.

Kilpatrick's term officially ends on December 31, 2009. Meaning, that he would have been up for re-election this year, a primary held in August for the November ge…

The Blinker: R.I.P.

Oscar Simler, they're taking your invention and killing it -- slowly and painfully.

The turn signal is moribund. As far as I can tell, it's comatose, in a vegetative state, and Dr. Kevorkian is nowhere in sight. That means there might be time for a cure, but I'm having severe doubts.

Simler is the man who patented the first automobile turn signal, back in the late-1920s. When I was growing up, we called it a "blinker." Some still do. But a growing number of folks might not call it anything, since they don't seem to know that it even exists.

When and why did this occur -- this slow, methodical signal-cide? What happened to cause a growing number of the driving nation to ignore one of the basic tenets of motor vehicle operation?

To me, the refusal to use a turn signal is the ultimate act of "screw you". It's basically one driver telling everyone else: "You don't need to know what I'm going to do. So just wait to see for yourself -- when I…

Fools and Wise Men

It should have been one of the all-time greatest quotes in political history -- especially since it had been captured on film, the kind with sound, even.

The speaker was Minnesota Senator Hubert H. Humphrey, and the Democrat was speaking to a group of folks on the campaign trail in 1968. The topic was, what kind of person should occupy the Oval Office?

Humphrey, at the time Lyndon Johnson's vice president, was going up against Richard Nixon, who was clearly breaking his promise made six years earlier, when he told the press that they "wouldn't have Richard Nixon to kick around anymore."

Humphrey, speaking in a folksy, soft tone, began listing the ideal qualities that this country's Chief Executive ought to possess. Then, as he addressed the ongoing situation in Vietnam and how he'd bring an end to it, Humphrey dropped this gem on the crowd.

"Any fool can get this country into trouble," he said. "It takes a wise man to get it out."

I saw it on Y…

"Reality" Bites

Perhaps there never has been a name for an entire genre of television that's as mis-named as the term "Reality TV."

Here's what's "reality TV", in my book: a camera, or two, recording the everyday, mundane goings-on in the life of the poor sap in whose home the recording devices have been planted -- with or without his consent. You know -- feeding his washing machine, feeding his dog. Washing his dishes, washing his dog. Taking out the trash. Opening mail. Sitting on the couch, clicker in hand, channel surfing.

What do you mean, BORING?

That's reality, folks. Not what's being served up on every channel, it seems, on the "dial" (remember THAT term?) these days, from CBS to Bravo to The Discovery Channel.

"Reality TV." Really?

This is one of the versions of "reality TV" that the networks are cramming down our throats, and note that it's a lot different than my version a few paragraphs ago: Contestants (GOTTA have conte…

OK, Why Enotes?

To be honest, I was fine writing just about sports, and nothing BUT sports. One of my sports writing heroes, the late George Puscas of the Detroit Free Press, said in his farewell column that, in his mind, he didn't know why anyone would want to write about anything OTHER than sports. And I agree.

But life has a way of poking its head up and saying, "There's more going on here than what the Tigers, Pistons, Red Wings, and Lions are up to -- even though it may not be as much of a diversion or release."

A few things poked their heads up: a teenage daughter, soon to be 16 and attracting boys; a 16-year-plus marriage that provides writing material; and my decidedly left-leaning political views that really showed themselves during the recent presidential campaign. All that and more, as they say, led me to think that perhaps sports writing is just not big enough anymore.

So appearing here will be political rants, social commentary, observations, the absurdity of life (which c…