Binge reading

Yesterday, I got an email from my good friend Tom Kuhl. (That’s “Mister Cool” to you.) He’s one of the few, the proud… the handful of folks who actually subscribe to my blog. (Poor fella.) And his note let me know there was something amiss:

While I hadn’t made any changes to my WordPress site, something definitely was screwy, and the email notifications weren’t going out each time I published a new post. Ghosts in the machine, I suppose. Tom’s email sent me down a rabbit hole as I tried to figure out what was wrong. The solution involved copious amounts of Googling, multiple emails to WordPress/Jetpack tech support, and getting into the belly of the blog beast via an FTP transfer site… don’t try this at home (unless you have to). But all appears to be well now.

However, if you are one of the lucky few (using the term “lucky” very loosely) who subscribe to this blog, you’ve got some catching up to do. Because what I lack in quality, I make up for in quantity. Brew another pot of coffee and dive straight into my latest posts:

  • Remembering Scott Hutchison, lead singer of Frightened Rabbit (5/10)
  • Paul Westerberg’s sister retires (5/13)
  • My son Peter sleeping (5/14)
  • Life imitating comic strip art (5/17)
  • George “Goober” Lindsey is my nemesis (5/18)
  • Singer Caroline Spence (5/20)

I won’t kid you – these gems are some of my greatest posts ever. Nah, just kidding, it’s the same old random b.s., as usual.

If, perchance, you’ve somehow stumbled upon this blog by unhappy accident (or maybe it was assigned to you as penance or community service) and you’ve yet to subscribe, you can do so via a form on the righthand side of the home page:

You’ll get an email each time I publish a new post. It’ll be like Christmas 2-3 times a week… the Christmas when you got mittens instead of Hot Wheels cars.

Don’t thank me, thank Tom.

George “Goober” Lindsey haunts my dreams

George “Goober Pyle” Lindsey (of The Andy Griffith Show fame… oh, and Hee Haw too!) saved Ernest Borgnine’s life.

But he took a few years off my life.

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Actually I’m to blame, not Goober. Check out the latest episode of the 97X podcast that I do with my old radio pal Dave for a true tale about Mr. Lindsey that involves the First Commandment of Celebrity Phone Calls.

Life imitates comic strip art

My son Peter has his final day of high school today. I imagine his last couple of weeks have gone something like this:

And then there’s Peter’s old man, the aspiring writer. This strip sums things up nicely:

Have a wonderful weekend, and keep chasing those dreams!

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Here’s my 18-year-old son, fast asleep in “stare at phone” mode.

Not many folks can pull this off, but Peter is a pro. When he’s not at school, at the gym, or at work, this is where you’ll find him – sprawled out on the couch. Many weekdays, he’ll wind up falling asleep there, and when I get up at 6 a.m., I’ll wake him to either get ready for school (weekdays) or head upstairs for another few hours of sleep (weekends).

Oh to be young again…

Grounded at last

A recent blog post from The Current, an indie radio station in Minneapolis, made me smile.

I’ve always loved that song, it has great lyrics…

Sanitation expert and a maintenance engineer

Garbage man, a janitor and you my dear

A real union flight attendant, my oh my

You ain’t nothing but a waitress in the sky

But as the blog post explains, Replacements leader Paul Westerberg wasn’t channeling his own inner rude passenger when he wrote it:

In Bob Mehr’s Trouble Boys, he explains that the song was actually inspired by stories songwriter Paul Westerberg heard from his sister Julie, a flight attendant. “I was playing the character of the creep who demands to be treated like a king,” Westerberg told Mehr. “I’d heard all the stories from my sister about how [passengers] would yell at the flight attendants and then how they’d ‘accidentally’ spill something on them.”

Now Paul’s sister has retired after four decades of putting up with all manner of passenger problems. I’m sure the stories would be even worse if Paul wrote the song today.

Congrats Julie… and thanks for sharing your stories with Paul, so he could share them with us.

Second place = first loser

Imagine you are a pretty smart dude or dudette. (I can’t even imagine that so you’ll have to do it for me.) If so, you’ve probably dreamed (or at least daydreamed) about getting onto the TV game show Jeopardy. You play along at home and do pretty well with the answers… yeah, you could totally be on the show and show that pompous Alex Trebek a few things.

Now imagine you do take the Jeopardy online test, and do well enough that you make it through to the live auditions. And then you beat the odds once again and survive the live auditions. You’ve made it – it’s a dream come true… you’re finally going to have your moment in the sun on Jeopardy!

Then, when you finally get on the show, you have to go up against James Holzhauer. Dude is a total beast. As announcer Johnny Gilbert would say it, “…and our returning champion, a professional gambler from Las Vegas, Nevada whose 17-day cash winnings total $1,275,587…”

James isn’t just winning, he’s winning in spectacular, runaway, big money fashion. Because he’s so smart and quick, he typically has control of the board most of the game, which means he usually finds all the daily doubles. Then, because he’s a gambler, he’s not risk-averse, so he goes all-in on the daily doubles, gets those right nearly every time… and for all intents and purposes the game is a rout before the second round even begins.

The other contestants aren’t stiffs. Sometimes they’ll go into Final Jeopardy with eight or nine grand, which is no small feat. But in nearly every game so far, James has an insurmountable lead.

The other players have the brainpower. If they were on the show at a different time of year, they might wind up as multi-day champs. But if you’re on during James’ roll, you have the unfortunate luck of bad timing. The only thing to do is to go out with a bang:


Sidewalk surfin’… and sidewalk fallin’

Spring has sprung (and I’ve got the allergies to prove it) and thus commences the daily struggle to get the kids off the couch, off the phones and out in the “fresh air” (achoo!).

Leah went out in the fresh air yesterday. She was grabbing a skateboard from the garage as I left to go pick up her younger brother from soccer. When I got home, she mentioned that she had fallen on the driveway and that her elbow hurt. Time for a trip to urgent care…. where time stands still, and the only “urgent” is your urgent desire to get a nurse, then X-ray tech, then doc to show up without an interminable wait in-between.

Four hours later, we finally got a diagnosis: incomplete radial head fracture. Time for a splint, and soon a cast. It’s her left elbow… and yes, she’s a lefty.

Poor thing is gonna have to learn how to text righty. While sitting on the couch.

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Robert Burns knows the score.

If I had a boat…

And if I had a boat
I’d go out on the ocean
And if I had a pony
I’d ride him on my boat
And we could all together
Go out on the ocean
I said me upon my pony on my boat

“If I Had A Boat” by Lyle Lovett

I don’t have a boat. Instead, we have four cars. Which means four tickets in the car repair lottery. About five weeks ago, my 17-year-old’s ancient Honda got a crack all the way across the windshield. It just magically appeared. A week after I got the windshield replaced, aforementioned 17-year-old managed to scrape the rear passenger door on one of those two-foot high poles that are put in public parking lots to… create more business for repair shops and replacement parts dealers, apparently.

I still miss The Far Side…

He did that on a Friday night, and never mentioned anything to me, even on the Saturday morning after, when I woke him up for bowling. The trim piece by the door was loose… and when he drove Saturday, it flapped in the wind and wound up breaking a taillight housing. If you’re keeping score at home, a replacement trim piece is $20… and a taillight housing is $100. Actually the taillight housing is $100 on Amazon or eBay, but I found it at a local auto salvage yard for $80… a penny saved is a penny earned!

Two weeks later, on a Monday morning, he was driving to school and skidded on a thin layer of ice that had formed… right into the back of the car in front of him. Everyone’s OK, it was just a fender bender… but in addition to paying the deductible, I’ll be paying for that for the next several years via higher insurance premiums.

Ah, the joys of old cars and teen drivers, and the magical combination of both.

After all those incidents, I was looking forward to a repair-free week. Walking into the house the other day, I saw this on my wife’s car:

Is it any wonder why I take the bus to work most days?

My son’s car should be ready tomorrow. I don’t know if I’m ready. Where’s that boat?

You know it’s Monday when…

… you head to the basement to feed the cats and notice that the sanitary sinks near the washer are filled to the brim with swampy water.

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This photo isn’t from my house… but close enough for blogging.

It happens at least once a year. It’s not the washer drain that’s clogging (I have lint screen and a drain cover there), it’s just backup from the kitchen sink, and the basins near the washer are the path of least resistance.

This too is not from my house… mine is a lot grungier from years of use.

My trusty drain auger, which I got eons ago for less than $20, saved the day once again. I was able to snake the drain to clear the clog.

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Thank goodness… after all, I wouldn’t want to spend any dead presidents for an emergency plumbing visit on President’s Day.

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Going to the dogs… and cats

Many moons ago, we fostered a puppy named Bibo for 4 Paws for Ability, local non-profit that provides service dogs for children and disabled veterans.

My wife: “Such a pwetty widdle pupper-dupper…”

Our job was to cover the basics with bouncing baby Bibo: the usual sit/stay/come commands, potty training, and “socializing” him to get him used to public spaces. Meaning my wife took him everywhere – stores, schools, sporting events, restaurants, parades… any place where he’d be exposed to new sights, sounds and smells.

At age one, Bibo needed to go back to the non-profit (much to my wife’s dismay) for hardcore “boot camp.” The training runs the gamut, as the dogs could be put into service in a variety of roles: mobility assistance, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, epilepsy, etc. It’s like Navy Seal training for dogs, and only the very best make it through to graduation.

Bibo was a dropout. There’s no shame in that. But he needed a forever home. I’ll give you three guesses as to where he wound up (and your first two guesses don’t count).

Now that those silly “obedience” lessons are over, can I sleep on your bed?

Bibo is back (we should change his name to “Boomerang”). He joins Hope, our seven-year-old mutt (adopted from a local shelter)…

So good at hogging the couch.

…and Coco and Lily, our two cats (also adopted) in our house turned menagerie.

I should buy stock in pet companies… and lint roller manufacturers.