Monthly Archives: December 2011

Dos Equis’ “the most interesting man in the world”

Everybody wants to buy a beer for this guy just to hear his stories. Now you can be that guy.

There is something in us that wants to be “that guy.” Commercials appeal to that “something.”

That is the appeal of the Dos Equis commercial; “the most interesting man in the world.” Everybody wants to be “that guy,” no matter how transparent and absurd it is; we want everybody to find our everyday stuff funny, amusing, insightful, thought-provoking, exciting, compelling, and interesting.

The kind of stuff that makes honest people into liars and successful politicians. These are perfect shirts for aspiring public servants and politicians.

Frankly, the people who have the most interesting lives and tell them well are a bore after a while anyway: boring to everybody, but themselves.

We are all just waiting to tell our stories and entertain the multitudes. All we need is an audience. The following shirts will announce your wit, charm, and charisma; especially if you have none: which few of us really have anyway – we just like to think we do. These shirts will allow you or a friend to walk around in your/their own little make believe world.

Shirts can be found at The Jittery Goat Online Shop at http://www.zazzle.com/jitterygoat

Just think about it; if the most interesting man in world finds your life compelling, common riff raff will hang on every word and droll over your stories and want more.

Your stories don't even have to make sence or have a point other than to make you look good. Just remember there is a golden voice behind the story.

This will really attract people to you and you better have the goods (stories, lies) to deliver.

When people ask you about this shirt you can come up with a story of how you introduced 'the most interesting man in the world' to your beer.

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Aunt Wava’s Sauerkraut Salad Abides

My Aunt’s saurkraut salad; a family tradition. When mixed with a limburger and onion sandwich the Epa starts issue sopenas to appear before the polution board and taping of your home.

By the time the 80’s rolled around many of the my family had moved or passed on in death. It was then that a remnant of the “old guard” got together at an aunt’s house in Lima, Ohio. It was wonderful The thirties seemed to be the decade they talked about the most. They were desperate years for many working class families, but they seemed to have good times and get together much more often than now days. We talked for a while and it was time to eat.

Of all the fare offered on that cold winter evening, it was Aunt Wava’s sauerkraut salad that seemed to take center stage. It was her prize dish and reported to be a constant feature at all family affairs in times past. “I made this at all the get-togethers,” she proudly said. “Try it. It’s good,” everybody urged. “Wava made this all the time,” they said. I was dubious. Was I being set-up for some cruel family joke. This was the generation that ate head cheese and Limburger on rye bread with onion. I tried it (the sauerkraut salad) and had seconds.

I distinctly remember looking around the room. My family (wife and three children) was the youngest there. My mother really urged me to be there, admittedly I was reluctant. Those old smiling faces I still see talking about then, now, and beyond, the inside jokes, the pet names, and the worn out stories filled that joyous evening. That group never assembled again. They are all dead except for my Mother who turns ninety-eight in February. To my knowledge she is the last of that generation – a generation that in their life times started out on horse back, heard the first radios, watched the first televisions, cranked to make a phone call, now use cell phones, heard the report of a man flying from New York to Paris, saw the first man on the moon, and traversed the world in supersonic transports all in one long and illustrious lifetime – Titanic, Hindenburg, Peal Harbor, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, World Trade Center and Aunt Wava’s sauerkraut abides.

Here is that recipe for sauerkraut salad:

1 #2 1/2 can (3 1/2 cups) sauerkraut, undrained

1 large green pepper, chopped fine

1 medium onion, chopped fine

1 c. chopped celery

1 small jar pimentos, chopped fine

1 c. sugar

1/4 c. salad oil

1/2 c. dark vinegar

1/4 c. water

Combine first 5 ingredients. Mix remaining ingredients and add to first mixture. Let stand in refrigerator at least 24 hours. Pour off most of the juice before serving.

Make certain all windows are open a half hour after serving or drive home with windows of the car down. If those things aren’t done, you’ll soon know why they should have.

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Mom’s Deviled Egg Days are Over: but She’s Available for Consulting Work

Christmas Without Deviled Eggs Is Not The Same For Mom

Mom could prepare deviled eggs in her sleep. Maybe she did; the feathers might have been from her pillow

This past Sunday I gave Mom a call. I knew she would be lonely. It was the second Christmas after the death of my sister, Charlene. Last year Char died six days before Christmas. There was hardly enough time for her to be lonely then, but I thought she might really want a phone call this year.

Mom and Char were as close as a mother and daughter could be.

It was ten in the morning when I called Mom. She was tired. The night before was spent with Char’s children and grandchildren. Later her granddaughter was going to have the family together at her home; Mom was invited and planned to go.

Mom and Char looked forward to these times in the past. They prepared their favorite dishes. Preparing food is really a labor of love.

Mom’s Cranberry Relish

Cranberry relish: nobody makes it as good as Mom and if they did, Mom would put a hit out on them.

For as long as I can remember whenever the family got together Mom prepared deviled eggs and cranberry relish. I can’t remember a time I didn’t like her deviled eggs. She had the touch.

The cranberry relish was an acquired taste. I didn’t like it at first (I was a kid).

As a kid I helped Mom make it. We used a hand-crank food grinder that attached to the kitchen table. That old grinder ground a lot of food in its day.

Mom sliced onions through it, wiping away tears as she did. Then she would ask me to take-over. “Whatcha cryin’ about, sissy?” She’d say.

I certainly wished time had been taken to write down that recipe for cranberry relish. It’s sort of strange when I think about it; I still hear the sound of the cranberries being squeezed and ground. (It’s also strange that during certain parts of Mom’s procedure she asked me to leave the room. What ever happened to our cats?)

Some Things Can’t be Replicated

Mom’s memory is pretty good (she remembers every time I embarrased her in public), but she doesn’t remember the recipe for that cranberry relish. Certainly if the recipe was attainable it would not taste the same unless prepared with the same food grinder attached to the same table in the same kitchen on the same rural township road in northwest Ohio with frost on the windows and a dusting of snow on the ground. And the entire spectacle being observed by a Boston terrier mix licking his chops.

Deviled Eggs Must be Made the Old Fashioned Way

Mom only prepares the deviled eggs these days and word around the family is that they aren’t as good as they used to be. But they are still eaten – or else.

When I talked to Mom Sunday I asked if she was going to make her deviled eggs. She said ‘no.’

In past years while Char was alive she told me that Mom always brought her deviled eggs to family gatherings. She looked forward to those gatherings and preparing the eggs. I think it’s for that reason Mom didn’t make them this year; they are a painful reminder of Char’s absence.

Mom told me a neighbor gave her one of those microwave hard boiled egg gadgets. The selling feature is that you don’t have to take all that time peeling the eggs. “Perfect for preparing deviled eggs!” It’s a good thing it was not test marketed by Mom. “I don’t get it,” she said. “They don’t even look like eggs. How the heck (%&$#) are you supposed to make deviled eggs from that crappy (@*%^#) gizmo. I’m spreading the word; those things ain’t worth crap (@*%^).”

Mom may have lost her touch for making deviled eggs, but not her opinions and she still knows a good egg when she sees one.

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Coach and Teach by Example (Part 4): Another Story from Rode Apple Junction

Stretch Tries to Correct the Past

For years Stretch practiced the shot he missed; a man alone plauged by he disappointment,

(Contiued from last week.)

All four of them walked like hungry field hands late for dinner. By the time they turned the corner and the school was in sight the parking lot had already began to fill. It seems that Moose made a phone call to the Rode Apple Junction Farmer’s Elevator. Folks started gathering like it was a flash mob event.

“What’s going on?” Stretch said. “There’s nothing planned at the school today.”

Stretch went directly to his office in the team locker room and dressed in his sweats.

On the top shelf of his locker was a ball. It was the ball; the ball that he missed the final shot of the district finals thirty years ago. He kept it all these years. No one knew this, but every night after practice with the gym empty, and all the players gone. Stretch got that ball and shot fifty jump shots from the position he missed the final shot thirty years earlier.

After high school Stretch went on to play for a small college in Tennessee. In his senior year they won their division championship. Stretch hit the winning basket with his jumper from the corner. He was heralded as a campus hero, but nothing could erase the bitter memory of missing the shot in high school. It happened in front of people he really cared about; people he loved; people he let down.

Stretch bounced the ball hard in the hallway that led to the gym. It echoed throughout the school. People assembled in the gym; they heard the ball bouncing. It was like the drum beat of an advancing Army.

Stretch walked through the double doors to the gym. On the other side was Doc, Clem, and Moose. Stretch looked into the bleachers. They were half full with people and still coming in.

“What is this,” Stretch said. “Some sort of gag or side-show.”

“I called down to the elevator,” Moose said. “It’s called social networking.”

“Take a few warm-ups,” Doc said.

Stretch made a couple of lay ups and shot a couple of jump shots from the foul line.

Stretch tossed the ball to Clem. “I’m going to set up in the corner and you toss it to me just the way you did in the finals.”

Stretch put everything out of his mind as he walked to his spot. He brushed past Doc and Moose as if they weren’t there.

Stretch had not changed much since his playing days in high school. He may have been another ten pounds heavier, but that was muscle.

Clem untied his apron and tossed it to the bench.

Stretch got to his spot and nodded to Clem; suddenly it was thirty years earlier. Clem dribble around the top of the key. Stretch broke for the basket and quickly reversed direction and went to the corner. He raised his hand for the ball. Clem tossed it to him. Stretch jab stepped toward the basket, he measured his shot and tossed the ball back to Clem.

Everyone was speechless. It was like nine-eleven when everyone stood in amazement at a falling skyscraper in disbelief.

Stretch walked over to Doc. His eyes were moist. “Coach you don’t know how many times I wished I’d just done what you told me to do; ‘no shots.’”

“I know,” Doc said. “I know.”

Moose turned to the crowd in the bleachers. “He did it! He did it!”

At first there were a few hands clapping and suddenly a roar not heard in thirty years.

Stretch draped his arms around Doc. “They have forgiven me.”

“No, no,” Doc said. “They are cheering for a man who has forgiven himself.”

“This is so childish,” Stretch said.

“Sometimes,” Doc said. “It’s okay to try to correct the past; even if only a gesture.”

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The Clam Chowder War (Father Against Daughter)

My signature dish; clam chowder: worth cheating for.

Today is the big day. My favorite fourteen year old Idaho granddaughter ( my only fourteen year old Idaho granddaughter) is sponsoring a clam chowder cook-off in the family.  It will pit my daughter against me.

I and clam chowder are one. Clam chowder is, sort of, my signature dish. My wife’s is chili and beer bread (a waste of good beer). My daughter is already the cup cake queen. Why does she want more? It’s like Hitler invading Austria; it’s never enough; she’s not happy until she has it all. My daughter wants to take my thunder. I could understand my son (it’s a male testosterone thing); but, my daughter!

In as much as I’ve given my daughter my recipe; how can I loose? It’s my recipe!

My granddaughter set forth the rules (I don’t trust her); we must use the same ingredients. Theoretically it should be a tie. And maybe that’s not such a bad idea. I couldn’t stand to hear my daughter gloating if she won, but I would, of course, be a gracious and humble winner (she would never live it down).

May game plan is to defeat her in the method of preparation. I know that she will boil the potatoes, but I’m going to par boil them and then sauté them so they have a slight fried crust. Also I’m leaving the skin on. I will likewise make certain my skillet for sautéing the onions and clams is hot before they are sautéed. I think this alone will put me over the top.

I'm not taking this too serious, but blunt force trauma to the head will assure victory.

Also I plan a surprise presentation. A pat of butter and a sprinkle of parsley will be added as each bowl is served. I should get points for style. My daughter will say that’s an unauthorized ingredient, but I will maintain it is garnish; a clear difference.

My daughter has home kitchen advantage. Her three children will vote her way, so will her husband (my favorite son-in-law up till now), and my wife will never vote in my favor. That’s everybody. I may have to bring people in off the streets or neighbors; people who don’t have a vested interest: people I can buy and bribe.

My daughter gets this wild crazed look when she's competing. I think she planned a secret ingredient. If no one touches my chowder, I'll know for sure she's done something to it.

I’ve thought about adding a cup of salt to my daughter’s chowder while she’s not looking, but that would be cheating; something that is not beneath me. I wonder if she is thinking the same thing? After all she is my daughter.

The bottom line is when gatherings include food, fun, and family everybody wins.

My clam chowder is better; now I’m happy.

Click this link for my “award winning clam” chowder.

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T-Shirts Are Tasteless and Tacky – Not Anymore

For a long time I never wore a shirt that had any sort of logo, phrase, or picture on it. John Wayne never did. I always considered them tasteless and tacky. Even wearing a shirt from a favorite team or

Real men don't wear t-shirts; John Wayne didn't.

school was viewed, by me, the same. I used to think, “You have so little self-esteem and personal identity you have to identify yourself with a team or college to define who you are. Grow up!”

In time I saw some as actually appealing. They sort of tell people who you are and where you‘re from.

I Caved

My son bought me a NASCAR shirt. I hate NASCAR; okay, hates over the top – I just don’t like it and make fun of NASCAR types; if there is such a thing. Okay, okay: toothless, beer-bellied, illiterate, beer drinkin‘, gun-carryin’, pick-up drivin’, wife beatin’, dog kickin’, Kodiak dippin’, middle finger flippin’, all-Americans.

My son lives in Charlotte, North Carolina; perhaps the center of the NASCAR universe. Before coming home for a visit one time he drove out near the speedway in Charlotte and visited one of the souvenir shops.

A clerk approached him and asked if he could help. My son said, “I’m buying a gag gift for my Dad; can you show me the tackiest t-shirt you have.” The clerk looked around as if to make certain nobody was listening, leaned close, and said, “They’re all tacky.”

My son bought a loud blue t-shirt (glows in the dark) with a stock car on the front. I wear it proudly. Instead of saying who I am; it is the antitheses of who I am. It attracts some really “purdy” women.

I now have a collection of college sweat shirts.

It’s Like Taking A Little-Bit of Home With You

I now live 2,000 miles from my home state of Ohio. I wore an Ohio State sweat into Costco one day. A young lad of about ten came up to me from nowhere and said, “O – H.” To which I replied, “I- O.” (a familiar Ohio State cheer) It sometimes tells people where you’re from and a great way to start a conversation.

T-shirts and bumper stickers state a philosophy or decry a cause. They stimulate conversation, cause people to muse, or smile. I read them all the time. It tells me about the person without asking.

When I see anybody with anything that identifies them as coming from Ohio I ask, “Where about in Ohio are you from?” Sometimes you find somebody who might have lived in the same community. It’s always good to talk to somebody from back home.

I Create Them; I Have Really Caved: In Fact, I’ve Sunk

A little more than a year ago I started creating t-shirts, cups, and bumper stickers through a company named Zazzle. I make money from them: not a lot; just enough to buy a senior coffee a day from McDonald’s.

So why do I do it? I like their coffee.

A lot of thought goes into each one. Sometimes they are meant to be the antithesis of what I’m saying, but often times expressing a concise thought that will capsulate a whole range of reflection and emotion on a particular subject. They are meant to be amusing and thought-provoking. Sometimes they express the frustrations of daily living and absurdity of what is called ‘normal‘.

I’m going to share some of them. Here’s the first:

The Most Interesting Man In The World

Dos Equis beer has great commercials and an intriguing pitch man for them; “the most interesting man in the world.” The character is a man who has done everything in life and now shares it with whoever will listen. He has no time for trivialities. He is a man of action. He is the man we all want to be in our silver and golden years. In fact I don’t think the most interesting man in the world has a t-shirt. It would only hide the hair on his chest. If he did wear one it would read, “I’ve done it all just to have something to amuse you with.”

He is played by Academy Award winning actor Maximilian Schell. He plays the role perfectly. He should probably receive another Academy Award.

He reminds me of a guest Johnny Carson used to have on his Tonight Show years ago, Commander Edward Whitehead. He always told a lot of interesting and amusing stories. He was featured in commercials and advertising for Schweppes.

Here are my “Most Interesting Man In The World Shirts.”

Link to “Stay Thirsty shirt.”

Link to “Rusty Zipper Shirt.”

There is so much hate in the world. The worst thing I wish on my enemies is a weak bladder.

This is adivse from "the most interesting man in the world." I think what it says is that we should all have a thirst or hunger for life; after all, it is what makes one person more interesting than the other.

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Ghosts of Christmas Past

Ghost of Christmas 1949

Christmas scenes try to create an allusion of a meaningful life of happy villagers leading simple happy lives. To my Dad it was a cozy little palce to pass-out.

We lived in a small upstairs apartment at 124 1/2 East Euclid Street in Lima, Ohio. It was only four years after World War II. Our family struggled like many; the post war boom had not reached Lima. There was hope, but little reality to base it upon and much uncertainty. Dad had a couple of jobs by then, but seemed to settle on working at the North Star Woolen Mills. Mom worked there during the war; they made blankets for the military and now had switched to civilian manufacturing.

With Dad now working a steady job it seemed as though the family was set for a joyous Christmas.

Dad’s idea of Christmas was a loud, boisterous, and a raucous time with plenty to drink. Mom wanted a Christmas centered around home and family. Dad won out.

Mom and Dad made every effort to make Christmas special for my two sisters and I.

One Christmas my youngest sister’s first bra was hung on the Christmas tree with care (my Dad’s idea; although, he blamed it on Santa and one of his perverted elves).

Dad bought my first train set when I was three in 1949. Dad couldn’t help but “tie one on” for Christmas. After all, “tis the season to be jolly.” He assembled the tracks and the train and flipped the switch on the transformer. When we got up Christmas morning Dad was still passed-out under the tree and the train still running around the tree.

Later I imagined in his inebriated state the constant watching the train circling the tree may have caused him to pass-out. To this day the smell of an alcohol drenched drunk and the scent of pine needles brings a tear to my eye.

Dad said Santa came by and helped himself to a beer. Of course Dad wasn’t about to allow any guest to drink alone; one beer led to another and before Dad knew it, he was gone. Dad later said, “Fat guys always hold their liquor good.”

Ghost of Christmas 1953

Ghosts are parts of our imagination that remind us of what made us who we are.

The Christmas of 1953 was a sad one. We lived in a smaller upstairs apartment. It was above Christoff”s Market on the north/west corner of Sceond and Union Street in Lima. Dad had no job and Mom got laid-off. Dad just failed at business. In those days if you didn’t have the money you had no Christmas. There were no credit cards.

Mom tearfully told my sisters and I there would be no Christmas that year. That was hard for Mom to accept. I remember her saying, “If I had it; you would have wonderful Christmas.”

Dad provided absolutely no comfort. The day Mom told Dad she was laid-off he swiped dinner from the kitchen table in an angered rage. He cursed and Mom tearfully cleaned the mess he caused.

Dad was quiet for days.

On a cold winter day three days before Christmas I sat at the bottom of the steps playing with old worn-out toys. Dad stopped and sat on the bottom step watching me play. I told him what I was playing and he seemed uninterested. His mind was elsewhere. He trudged up the steps and came back a few minutes later. He had a couple of shoe boxes, a pencil, and scissors. He said, “I’m gonna show you how we used to make toys.”

Dad made a tuck, a wagon, a car, a gas station, and house with the shoe boxes. He drew doors, windows, wheels, people, and what ever other feature was needed to supplement my imagination on the boxes . They were magnificent! Dad drew with incredible detail and skill.

I was completely happy and entertained. In spite of Dad’s inadequacies in many areas of his life he managed to lift my spirits and give me a cherished memory.

Later that day Mom walked by me at the bottom of the steps. I gleefully told her what Dad had done. She looked at the hand-made toys with contempt.

That Christmas Mom managed to buy a toy for me and an article of clothing for each of my sisters.

Christmas Realities

Later in life I learned there was no spiritual significance to Christmas. It’s origins were pagan and in our day promoted largely by greed and commercial interest. Deep within our collective psyche it is a day set aside to atone for the love not given, to make up for the the lies told, the promises not kept, the time not spent, the angry words expressed, the dirty looks given, the grudges harbored, and love not shared. Christmas is a reminder not of Christ, but of how empty lives are the rest of the year.

The most meaningful life lived was that of Jesus and he lived thirty-three and a half years without celebrating Christmas. So impressed were his disciples and apostles; they did the same.

There was a complexity and dynamic to Mom and Dad’s relationship that I never understood. I sometimes have a tendency to blame my Dad for all the problems in the family, but that’s too easy.

I never saw my Dad take a personal interest in anything to do with the family or our homes. Perhaps early in their marriage Dad had tried, but got that same look of contempt from Mom that she gave me three days before Christmas on a cold winter day in 1953.

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