Monthly Archives: November 2011

Don’t Mess With Menopause Momma

My Dad was a big man with a violent temper. He prided himself in never running away or backing-down from a fight.

Perhaps this should be the world headquarters for the prevention of family violence; The Louisville Slugger factory, Louisville, Kentucky.

I recall as boy being in a bar with him; when something broke out that even resembled a fight he was ready to be involved, even if it wasn’t his quarrel.

Dad was physical at home too.

Physical abuse in a family is what all the experts say it is; it’s a family secret. If ever talked about it is never talked out. Before my two older sisters died I made efforts to engage them in a conversation about how it effected their lives. My sisters did not want me to dredge up the past and I respect that.

Mom Drew a Line in the Sand; With a Ball Bat

When I was about fourteen my Mom and Dad were arguing one day. There were days that year they didn’t argue (March 22 and September 15). It was loud and threatening. Dad slammed his fist on the table a couple of times. The effect was awful. It made me sick. When younger I tearfully and passionately begged Dad to stop. By at this time in my life I was worn down and tired. I walked out to the barnyard and tossed a baseball in the air and hit it with my baseball bat as far as I could.

Nobody messes with Mantle in a clutch situation. And nobody messes with Mom during menopause.

Things died down as they usually did. Mom stormed out of the house and into the barnyard. She said, “Let me have your bat.” I handed it to her and she walked back to the house like Mickey Mantle walking to the plate with the bases loaded, two outs, down by three, in the bottom of the ninth.

“What’s the bat for, Mom?” I said. Nobody talks to Mantle in a clutch situation and like Mantle she didn’t respond. She was in the “zone.”

After five minutes I became worried and started toward the back door. Before I got there Mom walked out with the bat in her hand and handed it back to me. She walked to the car and drove away. I checked the bat for blood. There was none. I wondered; now that my prints are on the bat was Mom trying to frame me?

I stood the bat next to the back door and walked in. I was really expecting to find Dad on the floor or in bed in a pool of blood; instead he was sitting at the kitchen table. There were no visible signs of physical trauma, but he was noticeably shaken. There was a marked twitch in his left eye. Also I detected his fingers had a slight tremor. He gazed out the window; and said nothing to recognize my presence.

“Are you okay,” I asked.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m okay,” Dad said looking very much as if the man who just saw his life flash before his eyes.

“What about Mom?” I said.

“It’s probably best ya leave Mom alone for a while,” Dad said. “Women go through their change and it’s best not to mess with them while they do.” (This was Dads’ only advice to me about women and marriage.)

Peace At Last, Peace At Last

There was a period of about six months when Mom and Dad didn’t even speak to one another. That made for a peaceful household. The sniping and arguing never returned to the level before Mom’s menopause.

I don’t know what Mom did with that bat, but the results were unquestionably effective. Mom probably wondered why she hadn’t grabbed a bat twenty-five years earlier. Dad was probably wondering if the next time she might use it. Nevertheless when I wasn’t using it; I kept it hid.

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What To Do On Black Friday or What I Should Have Done on Black Friday

There is not one wide-screen TV worth waiting thirty-six hours in line for, sleeping in a tent, in the cold, and next to a bunch of greedy misfits who look like rejects from an ‘occupy’ demonstration – only cleaner. If I want real savings; I’ll wait for the after Christmas sale. That makes more sense than being crushed by some overweight defensive tackle on the Cowboys’ practice squad or a regular from the crowd at the Country Buffet.

It's hard to distinguish between a black Friday shopper and an 'occupy' weido.

Do something that will lower your blood pressure and keep you out of the emergency room or at least from a turf war with some two ton Tessy over some gadget that will be replaced in six months.

Why not stay at home with the family and create some meals for the next couple of days from Thanksgiving left-overs. Then after lunch go out and watch the greedy behemoths huff and puff their way to the next bargain. Is there anything more entertaining than feeding time at the zoo?

So if you decide to take my advice, here are some suggestions guaranteed to save you money and aggravation; it’s what to do with yesterday’s left-overs.

The Government May Waste a Lot of Stuff, but Not Turkey

We (in the U. S.) worry less about left-overs then any other country or time. Logically it is a way of cutting your food cost in half. At one time that was the real art of domestic engineering; making the best possible meals and dishes with left-overs.

Photo of U. S. Army soldier recovering from too much Turkey and withdraw from L-tryptophan.

When I was in the Army we had roasted turkey three or four times a year; Thanksgiving and Christmas of course, but a couple of other times a year also (if the turkey lobbyist had their way we would have had it seven days a week and the Army would have been in a constant state of lethargy from L-tryptophan) . Everyday after the turkey, we had turkey rice soup.

Like most soups after they are made a time or two they can be tweaked according to one’s own taste. But here is the basic idea;

Remove all meat from the bones. Place the bones into a stock pot. In order to make it all fit so that it can all be covered with water, the breast bones may have to be broken. Cover with water (about a gallon or more). Bring the water to a boil and allow it to cook at a slow boil for at least a half hour. One reason you do this is to get all the flavor from the left-overs, but another is to kill the germs if somebody sneezed at the table. Allow it to cool.

Strain the liquid. This is a must. I had an uncle that clipped his toenails at the table. Add a cup of rice to the rendered stock or liquid and cook it according the instructions on the rice package. If you don’t want rice; try noodles. If you don’t want noodles; try tree bark or a shredded all-purpose radial tires.

Add a cup or two of chopped turkey; assuming there are left-overs. If there is no left-over turkey that’s fine. There will be plenty of taste in the stock.

Sautee a cup of celery and onions and add to the stock. If you wish a little color to the soup add a carrot or two with the onions and celery. If you have left-over vegetables such as corn, peas, and green beans; toss them in the soup also.

Normally salt and pepper is enough seasoning for this dish, but other seasonings may be added; such as sage, a bay leaf or two, and celery salt.

Turkey is Not Just a One Trick Pony

The beauty of left-over turkey bones is the versatility.

You can take this same procedure and remove half the stock and replace it with as much milk, double all the ingredients and thicken it with with a roux. What you have is turkey a la king. This is great over left-over dressing, toast, or biscuits.

Left-over turkey can be made into a turkey salad; much in the same way you would a chicken salad.

If you’re keeping count; that’s three additional meals from the turkey. All the sudden; what was spent for that one large meal does not seem that expensive.

The first time I made turkey rice soup I thought; “how boring.” When I tasted it; I had to have another bowl. And it was amazing the number of soldiers who came back for seconds.

Here is something else I’m really wild about; If your plan is to make left over sandwiches with the turkey and you have left-over cranberry relish; add enough mayonnaise to the relish to bind it and add a smear to the bread. If it’s a bit too tangy; add a slice of Swiss cheese.

The holiday spirit? Not for me.

What My Family Did for Black Friday

Nearly forty years ago my family and I took holidays off the calendar. In a large part it was for spiritual reasons and to a lesser part for the sake of relieving anxiety. One might think a void was created, but that was not the case. We often times ate tacos while others were having a large traditional family meal. It’s sort of funny; a taco shell upside down is a smile. Our family liked to go to the mall on Black Friday. We never spent a dime. We just watched the people and the activity. We saw people we knew, talked a bit, and moved on. My wife and I wanted life for our children to be about people and not things.

Black Friday is an invention. It is an invention by merchants to create anxiety, greed, and anticipation. It lowers ones ability to logically think and opens a person to be easily influenced to part with their money without really counting the cost.

Our family was easy to spot in the mall; we were the only ones with smiles and if you got close enough; the smell of tacos on our breath.

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Where Winning Isn’t Everything: Rode Apple Junction

(Continued from last week.)

Pinky ordered a coffee. “How ya doin’ Jocko?”

One of Coach Nozowski’s players ran the wrong way for a touchdown. He told the boy, “You didn’t run the wrong way; when we lost the coin toss I picked the wrong goal.” Nozowski wasn’t about to let that kid live with that one.

“I’m doin’ fine,” Jocko said.

“Funny you should come here at this moment in time,” Clem said.

“Why do ya say that?” Pinky said. ‘Life is like that; full of unexpected coincidences.”

“Jocko was just expressing his thoughts on this Penn State thing,” Clem said.

“And what does that have to doe with me,” Pinky said.

“He’s says the media, which we associate you with, probably has kept it quiet. The way I see it everybody sold out: they sold out to winning at all cost, they sold out to fame, they sold out to ESPN, and they sold out to TV contracts and commercial endorsements. And the entire academic environment played as big a hand in it as anyone. You can find more moral direction in a auto mechanic’s school than on a university campus.”

Clem and Jocko waited for Pinky’s reaction.

“You’re probably right,” Pinky said.

“You agree!” Jocko said.

“Not only do I agree,” Pinky said. “But I know why.”

“Why?” Clem and Jocko said in perfect two-part harmony.

“I started out as a sports reporter,” Pinky said.

“I didn’t know that,” Clem said.

“Sure,” Pinky said, “That was my passion. Your best writing is on the sports page. You can really express things in vivid detail. You see it happen and describe it. When you report on some accident or robbery it’s all ready over. What you hear is all second-hand. There’s nothing like sports.”

“But what about you agreeing with us on this Penn State thing,” Jocko said.

“My first job was a sports reporter in New York,” Pinky said and stirred some sugar into his coffee. “I was covering college teams in the city. I reported an under age starting guard at this city college; he was being served alcohol at a Queens’ bar. I saw it with my own eyes and described it in vivid detail. Because of the public outrage, he was suspended for five games; his team lost all those games. Our editor was a member of their alumni. I started reporting high school ping-pong after that. Six weeks later I uncovered the owner of that bar was a conservative city councilman. Bingo! I’m writing political editorials and got a raise.”

“What are you doing in Rode Apple Junction?” Jocko asked.

“The same reason you are here, Jocko,” Pinky said. “You like football and I like writing. Sure, I’d like to be a big time reporter or editor, but I love the written word; I like to write things that are a little outrageous and express my view no matter how left-wing they are. In Rode Apple Junction people don’t get in an uproar. They know the mood will pass. I’ll go on to some other cause and when things don’t change the way I said they should; that makes people feel good that I was wrong and they were right all along. You know that Jocko; you could have coached in college, but you chose here. People forget and forgive. The academic world and college sports world live in a steel bubble surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by the media. None of the rules that apply to us apply to them and the media is there to justify it, to filter it, and to explain it away.”

“That’s right, Pinky,” Jocko said. “I still get an offer or two from colleges each year. I could sign on as one of the assistants and double what I make here, but I wouldn’t have half the friends. Here; it’s wait till next year. In the big time there is usually no next year. I’ve coached here for twenty years and had only three winning seasons. That ain’t good. Winning isn’t everything and the only thing. That creates greed, selfishness, and self-importance. There’s too much of that going around. No body likes their place; especially if it happens to be behind the other guy. It amazes me when I leave here and go into the city and you see people in cars risky life, limb and property to get to the next stop sign a car length ahead of you. When I meet up with some old alumni I tell them Rode Apple Junction is a place where losers can go and win.”

“Well spoken,” Pinky said.

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Recipe for Fancy Canned Tomato Soup (Recette pour Gourmet Soupe Tomate En Boîte)

Let’s harp on this word “gourmet” just a little bit more, okay.

When that term is applied to anything, I know it is anything but “gourmet.” If it is attached to a food item like soup, I know it’s nothing more than Campbell’s with croutons. If it’s attached to hamburger, it’s flame broiled and that’s it.

Recipe For Gourmet Tomato Soup

All it takes is a little imagination to make something "gourmet."

1 can of Campbell’s tomato soup

½ cup of water

1 small can of diced tomatoes (14.5 oz.)

Combine in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer.

Ladle into a fancy bowl.

Sprinkle with your favorite graded cheese, green herb (parsley, chives, oregano, etc.), and crotons.

Hide the cans and tell everybody it was made from scratch.

Gourmet Cooks

When it is attached to a non professional cook (Like: “My wife is a gourmet cook.”), what is really being said is that she makes some weird crap that nobody likes.

My wife and I were invited to a couple’s home for a meal. He said his wife was a “gourmet” cook. I knew we were in trouble. We would be forced to eat what we normally would not and say it was delicious, thus opening us up for “Here, take some more,” and “We’ll make sure we have it the next time you come.”

The main dish was some sort of chicken concoction in a crock pot. I stirred it around. I saw a string. Come on, when you see a string floating in anything don’t you want to see what it’s attached to. With no one looking, I lifted the string and tugged. It was attached to a small pouch of giblets. It reminded me of something you might see in a movie where the guest, in order to reciprocate appreciation for the hospitality shown by a barbaric warlord, eats the bowl of live maggots and termites. I warned my wife by nudging her. I scooped my portion from the outer edge. I figured that’s where the heat comes from and all the germs might be killed.

As my wife and I sat in the other room I heard our hosts whisper, “How did that get in there?”

“I hope nobody saw it.”

“I just hope nobody gets sick.”

“Shhhhh,”

Nobody likes caviar or escargot. People pretend they like it. Once it is labeled ‘gourmet’ or a ‘delicacy’ it becomes good. If it were called what it is would anyone eat it? – sturgeon eggs and snails.

There’s a scene from the Tom Hanks’ movie, Big, that says it all. After spreading caviar on a cracker and shoving it in his mouth, and expecting it to taste good, he quickly realizes how bad it tastes and tries to wipe out the inside of his mouth with a napkin. What makes the scene so funny? It is true.

The bottom line is this: when it comes to the word “gourmet,” it’s lipstick on a pig.

Use “Gourmet” in a Sentence to Improve Vocabulary

If you wish to impress others with your new gourmet cooking, also try to spruce-up your vocabulary. Try new words like “gourmet.” Us it is a sentence. For example if from Tennessee you might say: “Al Gore may be from Tennessee, but we don’t claim him.” Or if not sure about the pronunciation: “Al Gore met Tipper at Harvard.”

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Mom Would Not Stand by and Watch a Boy Being Raped

Apathy, Fear, No Integrity

Jerry Sandusky, I know, it's blank, but I'm tired of looking at him.

Many years ago dozens of people stood by helplessly in New York City and did nothing to keep a girl from being raped and murdered. People walked by as if it were a daily occurrence. And neighbors watched. The outcry against apathy was heard far and wide.

Recently a boy was seen being raped by Jerry Sandusky, who was a former coach at Penn State. The witness, Mike McQueary, a hulking ex-football player walked by. He reported it to his father. His father said to report it to Joe Paterno (Frankly this action indicates there was an expectation of a cover-up). The son should have said with the same voice that he barked signals while playing quarterback at Penn State, “Hey you! Stop it, now! I’m calling the police, now!”

Coach Mike McQueary should have called out like the quarterback he used to be, "Stop!"

Most recently McQueary said he made sure the rape stopped. I’m not sure what that means. Just standing there may have stopped it. He also said it was a tough decision – really.

The father should have told his son, “I’m calling the police, right away.”

There is a whole litany of disturbing behavior. In this debacle. Paterno never called the police. His superiors, who he reported it to, never called the police. Janitors saw similar activity in the past, but were afraid to say anything in fear of losing their jobs.

How Much Did the Media Choose Not to Know?

This is what has become sport's journalism, sideline sweeties.

There is one more group that is culpable – the media.

Sports reporters sniff every place for a story. It is unreasonable to believe they had no prior knowledge.

The problem is if they ask the wrong questions and talk to the wrong people they lose access to the team. All the sudden their questions aren’t being taken at news conferences. Request for interviews with key coaches and players are denied.

They knew. They didn’t dig. They didn’t report. Now they stand sanctimonious above everyone with feigned moral indignation.

Old School: How to Handle a Child Predator

When I was sixteen I got a job at miniature golf course for the Summer. It was a great job. I worked from 9:30 AM until around 5:00 PM seven days a week.

When I worked it was mainly kids and plenty of teenage girls came by to keep me company.

There were a couple of season pass holders.

One was a man named Russ. He was in his early fifties. He was not married and never was. The miniature golf course, I reasoned, was probably a way to fill the void of no family. He was one of our better putters. He won a few of our tournaments. He was friendly, kind, and gentle.

We played a few rounds of golf. His conversation seemed to drift to “naughty” things, not down right vulgar, but innuendo and double meaning along with a wink, nod, and smile. These were conversations that I had only with other guys. The fact he was an adult, I didn’t know where the conversations were heading.

My Mom worked with Russ. Those conversations were never mentioned to Mom, but I told her that Russ was a regular at the putting course. She said, “Watch out for him. They say he likes young boys.”

The word “pedophile” in my day was something you used to file your toenails. Those guys were just “weirdos.”

From that time my association with him was curtailed.

Something deeply disturbing occurred.

My twelve-year-old cousin was also a regular and likewise one of our better putters. Russ watched him – a lot. I explained things to my cousin as best I could, but he looked at me as if I were overreacting.

A couple of days later my cousin was talking to me. He leaned over the counter of the club house. Russ came up from behind and patted him on the “behind” and “goosed” him.

I grabbed a putter and swung it like a baseball bat. I missed the top of Russ’s head by a foot. That’s exactly what I wanted to do. The putter slammed against a pole and broke in two. I told Russ to never touch my cousin again and if I saw him touch any other kid I wasn’t going to miss the next time.

He left the putting course and a half hour later the owner came by. I was reprimanded and he said I  may have to be fired. I apologized to the owner for the distress it was causing him, but told him I would not apologize to Russ. The owner told me to go home and cool-off. He was going to think about what to do. Before leaving he told me that he had already agreed to refund, in full, Russ’s season pass and that it might be taken from my pay.

I went home and talked it over with Mom. She said that she would pay the money back for me.

The next day I showed up for work. The owner was there. He told me that Russ’s lawyer had contacted him. My boss said, “I’ve likewise talked to my lawyer and he said ‘let’s go to court.’” That was the end of it.

Russ liked miniature golf, but more than anything the course gave him access to young boys.

I was sixteen and with little moral foundation, but I knew what to do when I saw a boy being groomed for further exploitation.

It doesn’t take a moral code, a chain of command, or protocol. You pick up something and threaten the creep – end of story.

Later my Mom asked by how much I missed Russ’s head.

“A foot.”

“If you ever see him touching a boy again,” Mom said. “You call me first.”

“Why?”

“How tall are you,” Mom said.

“Six two,” I said.

“I’m five two,” Mom said. “I’ll take off the top of his head.”

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Penn State: Who Didn’t Report?

Adventures from Rode Apple Junction

Jocko Nozowski, the head football coach at Rode Apple Junction High School, stormed into the Jittery Goat Cafe. He ordered a milk shake and three burgers.

Nittany Lions lost their courage.

“Eating light today, what’s the problem, Jocko?” Clem said. “I ain’t seen you so worked since the lose to Soggy Sock Springs in ’99.”

“It’s this Penn State thing,” Jocko said. “Everybody is lookin’ at me like I’m takin’ showers with the water boy. This has given coaches everywhere a bad name.”

“Jocko,” Clem said. “Everybody knows you around here. You’re the only man I know who tucks the clip board in the back of his pants to shield his crack when he bends down. You’re a modest fellow.”

“Apparently that’s not enough. Margo Purdy just grabbed her eight year old boy and ran from the grocery as soon as she saw me.”

“Don’t read too much into it,” Clem said trying to calm Jocko down. “Margo was the one who called 911 when a gnat flew up he nose. The operator told her to sniff or blow. She sniffed and drove herself to the hospital to have he stomach pumped. She always over reacts.”

“ I’m not demonstrating how to take a snap from a center again,” Jocko said. “That always did give me the creeps. That’s why we went to the shot-gun in ’05.”

“Didn’t you always have parents sign a waiver if their boy was a center?” Clem said.

“You betcha,” Jocko said. “I’m not taking any chances.”

“I know what you mean,” Clem said. “My business is the same way. It’s ruled by emotion. Every time there’s an e coli out-break people stop ordering burgers and tossed salad. They act like there’s a turd on the plate.”

“You know what I don’t understand,” Jocko said. “And by the way I’m eating.”

“What?”

“If you can’t keep the Penn State play book a secret, how does something like this remain a secret?” Jocko said.

“What are you getting at, Jocko?” Clem said.

Reporters toss soft ball questions at JoePa. Journalist professionalism and curiosity should have prompted them to ask the tough questions. Where is the compassion and humanity of the news media? Protecting their source, hog wash!.

“Let’s face is athletes are worse at keeping secrets then White House aides,” Jocko said. “If I want the public to know something I try to keep it a secret. When I played college ball at State there were reporters all over the place. They knew everything. Our head coach drove a hundred miles to cross dress at a gay bar. All the reporters knew it. They didn’t make it known until he got caught speeding and trying to remove his garter belt and fish net stockings. Then they claimed a cover-up. The biggest cover-up was by the media. If they expose or uncover something before law enforcement does they’ll loose access to the team.”

“So are you saying this Penn State thing might even be a cover-up by the media?” Clem said.

“Sure,” Jocko said. “Why do you think they are so indignant? It diverts attention from them not reporting. If you ask me, that’s the real story, that’s the real injustice, that’s the real moral dilemma.”

“You know, you may be right,” Clem said. “Journalists aren’t mandated to report things like that. They hid behind protecting their source.”

“Ya know,” Jocko said. “I’m feelin’ better. I’ll take two more hamburgers, but squeeze the grease from the last two. The doctor says I gotta watch the colestoral.”

Just then, Pinky, the editor of the Rode Apple Junction Chronicle walked in.

(Continued next week.)

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Make Gourmet Sandwiches Like a Gourmet Chef

When ever ‘gourmet’ is proceeded by any word, it’s time to be suspicious.

Croissant is French for stale, dry, and tasteless. Leave it to the French to make it sound good.

Here is a definition of ‘gourmet’ from my word processor’s dictionary, “cooking of special food: relating to or preparing high-quality food that is sophisticated, expensive, rare, or meticulously prepared.” Hmm, so when a burger joint says ‘gourmet burgers’ is that what you are getting.

First of all when I see a “gourmet” anything, the first word that pops into my head regarding the definition is “expensive.” In fact, that is the only consistent word. We know that no matter what we think “gourmet” is, it will be expensive.

When I go to a small sandwich shop that says they have “gourmet” sandwiches there is an expectation the sandwich will be good and expensive. I have theory about “gourmet” sandwich shops: Before closing on the previous day the stupid sandwich maker runs down to the local Wal-Mart deli counter and takes all the old and unused chicken salad from the day. It is purchased with a pre-arranged price (1/2 price). On the way out croissants are picked up at the “day old” (which is really three day old) rack or on the way back to the shop a stop is made at a bakery’s discount outlet and all the croissants are purchased (that is normally three to ten days old). After the bakery discount store is wiped out of its croissants it is off to a farmer’s market before closing where the words are echoed, “Don’t throw that lettuce and tomato away. I’ll take ’em.”

Now that quaint little “gourmet” sandwich shop is ready for business tomorrow.

The next day a hand full of walnuts are tossed into the chicken salad, a cup of grapes, a dollop of mayonnaise to freshen it up, and a sprinkle or two of thyme and rosemary to set aside from store-bought.

The sandwiches are delicately made, placed on a china plate, a sliced pickle and baked potato chips (not fried, we are health conscience) are placed as a side. It is now served to the customer who says, “Aren’t these special. Only if the people who can only afford to go to Wal-Mart could eat like this.” After sipping the house specialty coffee (Folgers – ran through a dirty sock) the customer goes to the register and hands a twenty to the cashier. The cashier says, “We had to raise our prices. It’s $22.50 now.” The customer says, “I wondered when you were going to raise your prices, everybody else has and it’s well worth it.”

As the customer leaves she (I’ll say “she” because I’m a misogynist – relax, I’m just kidding) she comments to a friend, “You probably notice the croissants were a bit dry. That’s because they are flown in from a small village bakery just outside Paris, but I settle for nothing except what’s authentic. The French make such wonderful pastry, but they have little regard for punctuality.”

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