Thursday, December 31, 2009

In the Year 2010


"In the Year 2525" is a hit song from 1969 by the duo of Zager and Evans which reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for the six weeks commencing July 12. "In the Year 2525" opens with the words "In the year 2525, If man is still alive, If woman can survive, They may find...” Following verses pick up the story at 1010-year intervals from 2525 to 6565. Disturbing predictions are given for each selected year. Tomorrow is the beginning of the year 2010. Unlike the Zager and Evans tune, I have no disturbing predictions.

Instead, I have come up with four unbelievable things occurring in the year 2010 that not even Zager and Evans could have predicted.

In the year 1992, Green Bay Packers general manager Ron Wolf traded a first-round pick to the Atlanta Falcons for quarterback Brett Favre. Favre played 16 seasons in Green Bay. During his time in Green Bay, he helped the Packers appear in two Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl XXXI. Favre also started every Green Bay Packers game from September 20, 1992, to January 20, 2008.

Unbelievable as it might seem, “In the Year 2010”, after retiring twice, then subsequently “unretiring” and considerable consternation, Favre now plays for the Packer’s arch-rival, the Minnesota Vikings. Could Zager and Evan have predicted such a betrayal back in 1992?

I think not.

In 1983, Regis Philbin, along with co-host Cyndy Garvey, starred on a local New York program called The Morning Show. In 1988, Kathie Lee Gifford joined Philbin as co-host and the show became Live with Regis and Kathie Lee and was syndicated nationally. When Gifford left the show in July 28, 2000, the show was simply known as Live with Regis and featured guest co-hosts.

As far-fetched as it might seem, “In the Year 2010”, Philbin is hosting a syndicated morning talk show called Live With Regis and Kelly. Could Zager and Evans have predicted in 1983 that the cantankerous Philbin would still be at it some twenty-eight years later with the insipid Kelly Ripa as his co-host?

I think not.

In March 1979, Steve Dahl was hired to do a morning radio show at WLUP in Chicago where he met overnight DJ Garry Meier. The team was soon billed as "Steve and Garry." The irreverent twosome enjoyed success together at both WLUP and WLS until 1993. During their reign of terror on the Chicago airwaves, they were best known for the historic Disco Demolition and their relentless ripping of the more established WGN.

As unthinkable as it might sound, “In the Year 2010”, Garry Meier is now the afternoon host at WGN, the same station that once featured Wally Phillips and Eddie Schwartz, the very men Meier once ridiculed unmercifully. Could Zager and Evans have predicted in 1979 this unlikely hiring by the Chicago 50,000 watt blowtorch?

I think not.

In February1964, the legendary English rock band The Who was formed. The group consisted of vocalist Roger Daltrey, guitarist Pete Townshend, bassist John Entwistle, and drummer Keith Moon. The Who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, their first year of eligibility.

The Who

Incredibly, “In the Year 2010”, The Who will perform at halftime of Super Bowl XLIV. Surviving members, Townshend and Daltrey, along with drummer Zak Starkey and bassist Pino Palladino, will take the stage on February 7th, exactly forty-seven years to the month later. Could Zager and Evans have predicted that the band formed in Shepherd’s Bush, London England would be entertaining at the world’s largest sporting event, being broadcast worldwide in more than 230 countries and territories?

I think not.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Again, I think not. Not when it comes to Brett Favre, Regis Philbin, Garry Meier and The Who. Happy New Year my friends. I wish you much prosperity “In the Year 2010”. Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Koos Christmas Story

On a bitter cold Saturday night, late December in 1976, the men of Koos Inc. gathered in the backroom of Mario’s Red Arrow Club on Sheridan Road in Kenosha. The reason for this get-together was a Union Christmas party. UFCW Local 73A was good enough to sponsor the much-appreciated gathering for the workforce from Koos. This night was going to be an event to be remembered. This celebration would be a first. Never before had the Union workers at Koos Inc. had an official Christmas function. Tonight that would all change.

The year before, not only was there no party, the employees had to work until 11:00 o’clock on Christmas Eve morning. Of course the beer that was smuggled into the plant made for somewhat of a cheerful atmosphere, but it still wasn’t a party. Not even the numerous pints of blackberry brandy purchased from the nearby Beer Depot could do the trick. It just wasn’t a party.

The people in management always had a nice little soiree each year, but not the guys in the Union. This year was going to be different. The guys in the plant were finally going to have a bash of their own.

And what a bash it was!

The backroom at Mario’s Red Arrow Club was dimly lit, long and narrow, with a chest-high wall at one end that separated a small kitchen from the rest of the hall. This might have been the back of a smoke filled neighborhood bar, but it was perfect for this inaugural event.

The good people from UFCW had provided the guys from Koos with enough money for the hall, food, a keg of beer and a couple of bottles of hard liquor. Several of us had even brought festive holiday deserts. What more was needed? Let the party begin!

Because we were new to this Christmas party thing, most of us had neglected to bring a date. The only females present for the event were Ziggy Gutowski’s wife and the aunt of Danny Fliess who brought her two daughters. Other than that the guest list was strictly male.

It was still going to be quite a shindig, trust me.

As the sloppy Joes warmed in the crock-pot and the hot dogs simmered in a large pot of hot water, we decided to start playing cards. While Ted Nugent blared through the speakers hung on the walls, the collection of partygoers broke into two separate games of cards, one at each end of the room.

Located at the east end was a boisterous group of Koos veterans, consisting of Danny Fliess, the legendary Arno Schubert, Jim Weber, Munk Ekern, Harry Leipzig, along with several others. They were playing poker for cash and the shots of Wild Turkey were flying.

Joining me at the other end of the hall, near the kitchen area, were Chuckie Haubrich, Chuck Huck and some of the newer employees. Rather than gamble, we had opted to play drinking games where the loser had to guzzle a beer. The card playing was sloppy, but the suds were cold.

The party was in full swing and everyone was having a high-spirited time.

That is until our group spotted a humongous can of black olives. As we were attempting to get the can open, the group from the east end informed us that they wanted some of the olives. The diminutive Chuck Huck put a handful on a paper plate and brought it over to them.

Evidently this was not good enough for them.

Several members of their contingent made their way over to our table and demanded the whole can of olives. We would have no part of that and we all grabbed a big handful and told them that they were all ours!

Seeing that we were not giving up the olives peacefully, the “east-enders” grabbed the can and made off with it and the remaining olives. We were outraged and shouted, “You want all the olives?” With that the war was on. Olives were flying from one end of the hall to the other.

Unfortunately, the olives were only the beginning. Soon cups of beer were being flung across the room. Being near the kitchen area, our group decided to “escalate” the battle. Using cooking tongs, we began plucking hot dogs from the boiling water and used them as projectiles in our efforts during this now epic battle. The frankfurters were flying!

This melee resembled a scene from any Three Stooges film. At this point it was pure chaos.

Then something happened that momentarily brought the frantic food fight to an abrupt stop. For some unknown reason, Chuckie Haubrich grabbed a big handful of raw hamburger, wadded into a lump the size of a baseball and hurled it across the hall at Arno Schubert’s oddly shaped head.

Before I go on, for those of you who don’t know Chuckie Haubrich, he possessed an extremely strong arm. The man could throw a ping-pong ball through a brick wall.

Now back to the story.

Splat!!!! The sphere of uncooked ground beef had found its’ target – the right side of Arno’s face. Chuckie Haubrich would have made Nolan Ryan proud with that toss.

Seeing what happened, we started chuckling as Arno staggered and tried to regain his bearings. It didn’t take long before everyone in the room was roaring with laughter. Well, everyone except for Arno.

With the glob of meat still stuck on his face, he picked up a pan up of orange Jell-O covered with whipped cream. Fuming, with the desert held at shoulder height, he unsteadily made his way over to our end of the room.

As he got closer, he spat out, “You think it’s funny?” Everyone continued to snicker, wondering if he would actually retaliate against Chuckie Haubrich. After all, he was the one who had tattooed him with the beefy missile. When he finally reached our cluster, Arno walked right by the 6’4” 250 pound Haubrich.

Instead, he turned to the 5’7” 150 pound Chuck Huck and hissed yet again, “You think it’s funny?” You could have heard a pin drop.

Huck stared the irate German right in the eye and blurted out, “Hell ya it’s funny!”

You guessed it. Chuck Huck was now wearing the pan of orange Jell-O and whipped cream all over his head. Needless to say, the war was on again. Only, now cakes and various other creamy delights had been added to the arsenal.

When all was said and done, the backroom of Mario’s Red Arrow Club was declared a disaster area. Food was not only on the walls and floor, but on the ceiling as well. As we scraped our holiday meal off of our clothes, the manager of Mario’s kindly asked us to leave. Okay, it wasn’t so kindly.

And the Union didn’t get the deposit back for the hall. And there was never another UFCW sponsored Christmas party. That Christmas party was the first and last for the Union guys at Koos. It was the only Christmas Party. Ever.

And what a bash it was!

May you all have a Happy Holiday season and a very Merry and Blessed Christmas. Until next time…from the booth.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Reality Show Comes To An End

Back in May I wrote a blog summing up Survivor Tocantins titled “Survivor Reflections”. I described the finale of season eighteen as being “satisfying because JT, the guy I was pulling for won and he was a respectable family-orientated guy to boot.” I also said last year’s finale was “less than thrilling was because the final four contestants were all down-to-earth, decent people. There was no “villain” to root against.” Well, last night’s finale for Survivor Samoa was the polar opposite. Not only was it completely dissimilar, but also it marked the end of the reality show Survivor.

Despite Variety naming producer Mark Burnett’s durable program the most influential program of the soon-to-be-concluded decade, it’s reign as a reality show has come to an end after nineteen wonderful successful seasons.

Please let me explain.

Don’t panic Fellow Survivor Geeks, season twenty, Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, will debut 52 days from today. However, when Survivor airs February 11th it will no longer be a reality show. It can’t be. Not after Jaison made the following statement at last night’s reunion show:

“This game (Survivor) is a lot like real life.”

Huh? Okay, Jaison did wear his “smart girl glasses” at Jury Council, and he is an aspiring attorney. It could even be that he is bitter because Hall of Famer Russell burned your socks for a second time, this time on the reunion show no less. But counselor, what did you just say.

The first word in reality is real. I don’t know about you, but my life is real and no part of it resembles the game of Survivor. I have never had my socks burned. Never have I dined on Sea Noodles and Slug Guts Parmesan. And regretfully, my life doesn’t include having beautiful beach nymphs, clad only in bandanas, cuddling up to me for warmth at night.

Oh yes, and there isn’t a $1,000,000 prize waiting for me. Not even a $100,000 check from Sprint for being the “Fan Favorite”. That my friends, is NOT reality.

Therefore, with that being said, it is official; Survivor is no longer a reality show.

I didn’t need an emotional speech from a teary-eyed Erik make me aware of this fact. Real life is one thing that Survivor is not. That is why I watch it. That is why I have a such passion for it. That is why I will be tuned in on February 11th for its twentieth season.

Enough pontificating on my part. Time for some random observations.

Shambo is Shambo, a loveable knucklehead…Dave Ball still reminds me of Mick Fleetwood…If the T-shirts that Brett was wearing are the ones that he designs professionally, maybe he is the one who needed to win the million bucks…Another thing about Brett, what was he talking about at Jury Council? I didn’t quite get it…Laura is an arrogant, snotty bitch that makes me vomit in my mouth…Monica’s Botox-inflated lips made her exaggerated facial gestures even more nauseating…

Was it just me, or did everyone look like they were ready to cry? A lot of watery eyes. Maybe it’s the HD…Am I the only one that has the image of Natalie hanging her lacy panties up to dry permanently etched into their brain? I bet not…Did this season have more petulant crybabies than usual? Everyone thought they got screwed…I let out a cheer when Hall of Famer Russell won $100,000 for being the Sprint Fan Favorite.

Oh, I almost forgot, Natalie outwitted, outplayed and outlasted to the tune of $1,000,000.

That’s it for Survivor Samoa. I can’t wait for Heroes vs. Villains. But remember, it’s not reality! Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to everyone. Make sure that you check back on Christmas Eve for my gift to you. Here’s a hint - it has Arno in it! Until next time…from the booth.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Shambolicious

Tonight’s blog is written with a somewhat heavy heart. My heart is heavy for a couple of reasons. For one it’s in my body, so it has to be heavy. But seriously, the reasons I am a bit downcast after tonight’s chapter of Survivor Samoa are twofold. The first is fairly obvious; it’s the last Thursday episode of what has been an outstanding season. The other reason is that tonight we bid adieu to the magnificently mulleted one, Shambo Waters. And she left in true Shambo fashion.

Although the ex-marine from Washington had started to annoy me in the past few weeks, I will dearly miss her. Tonight I was reminded why she had become so iconic.

The first moment was when the show opened with emerging superstar Brett rubbing that glorious mane of hers in the glow of the Samoan moon. That was a very subtle hint that tonight was going to be all about Shambo and her splendid ‘do.

When Emmy award-winner Jeff Probst asked her at the Reward Challenge what she called her hairstyle, she playfully tossed those stunning tresses, smiled and said, “Shambolicious.”

We then learned she had been sporting mullet-zilla since 1986!

It was at that point that I was fully aware that this Harley-riding woman from the bad streets of Renton, Washington was going to be a focal point in this next to last episode of the nineteenth season.

Random Shambo Highlights:


• Referring to Natalie as “You lucky little bitch” in the Reward Challenge.

• At the Reward feast, while ripping the skin off of a roasted pig, she mutters, “Right there baby. My favorite part.”

• After toasting the people of Samoa at the feast, she gets jiggy with it, much to the delight of the locals, as well as Hall of Famer Russell and Jaison.

• Later she declares, “That being a grown-up is just so overrated.”

• At Tribal Council, she gleefully admits, in front of a jury made up of her former Galu tribe mates, that she is proud of the fact that she is a traitor.

Unfortunately, it was at that same Tribal Council when Probst uttered that fateful phrase, “the tribe has spoken” to tonight’s star. When she realized that her time had come, she hugged Brett, had her torch extinguished and graciously wished everyone good luck.

What a classy move by the mulleted one.

But she wasn’t through. During the closing credits, smiling straight at the camera she commended the Fao Fao Four for being loyal to each other and voting her off! She said they were “awesome”.

On Sunday night the sole Survivor will be announced and will be awarded one million dollars. And I am pulling for Hall of Famer Russell to be that person. But tonight belonged to Sharon “Shambo” Waters and that Shambolicious mullet. Well done Shambo.

Until next time…from the booth.

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Americanization Of Britain

In 1964 the film “The Americanization of Emily” was released. “Emily” starred James Garner and Julie Andrews. Set in London, in 1944, the film is based on a novel by William Bradford Huie, a former naval officer and aide to an Admiral during World War II. In 2005 I joined Pogo, a gaming website that offers a variety of casual games, ranging from card and board games to puzzle, sports, and word games. While playing, you are able to “chat” with people from all over the world. That is where I met a lovely lady from the U.K. named Bev.

That is when I first embarked upon my Americanization of Britain.

And it hasn’t been a small undertaking. Not by any stretch of the imagination. This ambitious endeavor not only includes the Americanization of Bev. Nope, it has branched to the rest of her family and a couple of friends.

No big deal you say? Well, Bev’s family is nothing to sneeze at. Her parents, Alfie and Elsie, obviously had a favorite hobby. The results of their hobby were Sue, Margaret, Hazel, Christine, Carol, Beryl, Donald, Barry, Keith, David and Debbie. In that order.

Where is Bev you ask? Bev’s given name is Beryl, sibling number six of eleven. She might be the middle child, but she compensates for it with an abundance of nicknames. She is also Doris. And Bell. And B. And Coops. You get the picture.

Over the years Bev and I have become dear friends. I have gotten to know a lot of her family and have no less than ten of them as facebook “friends.”

The language barrier was the first bridge to cross. In England, football is soccer and soccer is also soccer. In America, football is football and soccer is soccer. We still struggle with that one.

Then there are chips and crisps. Okay, pay attention. The British call French fries, chips. They call potato chips, crisps. I am having more success Americanizing Bev’s family in this regard.

This was made obvious one night when Bev’s daughter Louise asked her if she could speak to me on Skype. Bev said sure. Louise sat down in front of the computer, said hi and told me that she had just been to McDonald’s. I asked her what she had.

Her reply made me grin.

With a big smile the young Brit said she had a burger and a milk shake. She then paused, and proudly added, “And French Fries!”

My hard work was beginning to pay off.

Other inroads in my effort to Americanize include providing Bev’s husband, an electrician, with an American-style nickname of his very own. He is now commonly referred to as “Sparky”.

Bev’s enchanting eldest sister Sue has become a regular reader of this very blog, leaving comments on a consistent basis. She is a big fan of my tales of Koos, especially when they involve the legendary Arno.

I have also introduced the Brits to my favorite sport teams, the Green Bay Packers and the Milwaukee Brewers. Bev loves it when I email videos to her of Brewer home runs at Miller Park, so she can see Bernie Brewer descend down his slide.

Bev’s charming sister Debbie is another member of her family that I have become good friends with. Here my attempts at Americanization are aimed mostly at Debbie and husband Scott’s rambunctious son, Jake.

Jake loves sports. On weekends he plays football (soccer) one day and rugby on the other. If that wasn’t enough, he takes swimming classes on both days. Oh ya, during the week he takes Judo lessons after school. With this daunting schedule, it’s amazing that Debbie has any time for games on Pogo.

Now back to the Americanization of young Jake. This past Saturday, Bev had a family get-together at her house. The function served two purposes. Not only was it a Christmas party but it also celebrated Jake’s eighth birthday. He was born on Christmas Eve, so in her infinite wisdom, Bev decided to combine both of the events at one time.

Bev had graciously extended an invitation to me, but unfortunately my schedule prevented me from attending the festive bash. Not wanting to be rude, I did however mail a present to the guest of honor.

If the pictures below are any indication, it looks as if he enjoyed the gift that I had sent to him. Quite American, don’t you think? It goes without saying that Jake is clearly the coolest kid in England.

A British Packer Backer


Prince Has a Fan "Across the Pond"

My efforts to Americanize Britain aren’t finished, not by a long shot. I think my next venture will be to have them consolidate all the different things for which they use the word “piss”. Don’t even ask. Until next time…from the booth.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tis The Season…Again!

The holiday season is here once again with Christmas just around the corner. Last year at this time I wrote about the onslaught of holiday programming that hits our televisions during this time. Tonight, the classic “It's A Wonderful Life” is airing on NBC and beginning on Christmas Eve, TBS will run its annual 24-hour marathon of “A Christmas Story”. All the other Yuletide movies are there for your viewing pleasure as well. My personal favorite is the underrated “We’re No Angels” starring Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray and Peter Ustinov.

That’s just the movies; there are still the TV programs to be considered.

Being more of a television-guy than a movie-guy, I have seen my share of Christmas-themed episodes on the tube. TV Land has a marathon starting tomorrow at 5:00 am. It kicks off with Roseanne and concludes at midnight with 3rd Rock.

Sandwiched in between are multiple installments of Three’s Company, The Brady Bunch, Good Times, Sanford And Son, All In The Family, Married With Children and The Beverley Hillbillies. There is even a 2-hour chunk of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition for you Ty Pennington fans.

Over nineteen hours of holiday sitcom programs that aren’t really among my favorites. I preferred it when shows like The Bob Newhart Show, Cheers, Becker and The Dick Van Dyke Show went all merry and mirthful. You could even give me Frank Costanza celebrating Festivus with the gang on Seinfeld.

The TV Land marathon would be much improved if they mixed in some of these programs. Sanford And Son? Come on.

My biggest disappointment with the marathon’s lineup is the fact that it does not include the Andy Griffith episode entitled "The Christmas Story". Mayberry’s version of Ebenezer Scrooge will surely warm the cockles of your heart. I know each time I watch it my cockles get toasty.

Here is a quick synopsis:

On Christmas Eve, ornery department store owner Ben Weaver insists that Andy lock up moonshiner Sam Muggins. Weaver has brought along a jug of moonshine as evidence of Sam's wrongdoing.

In order to keep Weaver off his back and still have the party they had planned, Andy arrests Sam's wife and children as "accessories before, during, and after the fact", and deputizes Ellie, Opie, and Aunt Bee to help watch the prisoners.

With the Muggins family in jail, Andy, Barney and their deputies prepare a feast with all the trimmings for the family and decorate a Christmas tree. Everyone is having a good time except Ben.

Peeping through the jailhouse window, Weaver is touched when he sees everyone having a good time. Touched with the Christmas spirit, the crotchety store owner tries to get himself arrested in order to join the fun.

After several failed attempts, Andy finally arrests Weaver, after he dumps a garbage can in the alley. Together, the men appear at the door of the jail with a suitcase full of gaily-wrapped gifts from Weaver's store. Weaver is welcomed and regaled with food and drink. He falls asleep in one of the jail cells after finishing the jug of Sam's moonshine.

TV Land will be airing this all-time favorite of mine, but not until Christmas Eve at 7:30 pm and on Christmas Day at 10:00 am. Maybe there is something to be said for anticipation making the reward even greater.

During this festive season, I hope that you all have the opportunity to view your favorite holiday programming. Whether it’s a movie or a TV sitcom, take a break from all the shopping, wrapping and partying and do yourself a favor and make time to enjoy it.

Happy holidays! And don’t forget to catch Andy Griffith’s version of “The Christmas Story” and see Barney Fife dressed as Santa Claus. Until next time…ho, ho, ho from the booth.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

And Then There Were Six

Tonight’s episode of Survivor Samoa marked the next to last Thursday night of season 19 of the award-winning CBS reality show. All that remains is next Thursday’s program and the finale show on Sunday December 20th. Oh yes, and immediately following the finale, the reunion show where we learn which of the remaining six takes home $1,000,000 by having outwitted, outplayed and outlasted the others.

That’s right, only six of the original twenty have endured this odyssey that started back on September 17th.

To get the magic number down to six there were two Immunity Challenges this evening with each one followed by a Tribal Council, thereby extinguishing the torches of two more hopefuls.

I had mixed feelings about the people sent home tonight. I was glad that the petulant Monica got her walking papers. Although she is easy on the eyes, she makes me vomit in my mouth each time she speaks. Good riddance.

On the other hand, I was starting to dig Dave Ball. Am I the only one that noticed that Jeff Probst always called him Dave Ball? He never called any of the others by both names. Wonder what that was about? Hmm…

So that leaves us with only two left from Galu - Brett and Shambo. Added to the four contenders from Foa Foa - Jaison, Natalie, McDreamy and Hall of Famer Russell, and you have the final six.

My pre-blog phone call to Fellow Survivor Geek Auntie Janet proved to be very enlightening. If I liked someone, she couldn’t stand him or her. And conversely, the competitors that she was pulling for were the ones I didn’t care for. I guess that’s the beauty of Survivor.

With that being said, I would like to offer my evaluation of the final Samoan six. I have placed them in the order that I would like to see them finish. Sorry FSG Auntie Janet.

1. Hall of Famer Russell. With the HUGE target on his back, it will be tough for him to win it all. The man is outstanding. Say what you will about him, he has made this season a memorable one.

2. Natalie. This young lady has played a marvelous game and has proven to be a fierce competitor in some of the challenges. Her spot at number two was solidified when they showed her hanging her lacy gold panties out to dry on the tree branch.

3. Jaison. He has been coming on strong as of late. Plus, as an added bonus, the longer he sticks around, the longer I get to type his misspelled name. His name greatly pisses off Non-Survivor Geek Pat.

4. McDreamy. He too has become more of a force in the challenges. It will be interesting to see how he and Jaison handle the Hall of Famer as the game progresses in its final days.

5. Brett. This evening, the non-descript one finally started talking and by doing so, has become a major player that must be reckoned with. By winning the second Immunity Challenge tonight he made everyone take notice.

6. Shambo. Sorry FSG Jamie, but the magnificently mulletted one has started to annoy me immensely. I know that you are pulling for this ex-marine, Harley riding broad, but the woman is delusional! She has to go.

There you have it, my take on the final six. I would be very interested to hear your opinion as well. I already know how FSG Auntie Janet feels.

I would like to leave you with the quote of the evening. Before becoming the thirteenth person asked to leave Samoa, Dave Ball was lamenting the fact that it would take a miracle for him not to be voted off. But he then reasoned that miracles do indeed happen, “Because the Lord frickin’ provides.” Nice.

Until next time…from the booth.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Good-bye My Old Friend

On Friday December 4, the television series Monk, which premiered on July 12, 2002, came to an end after eight entertaining seasons. With a tear in my eye, I said good-bye to my old friend, Adrian Monk as the final montage was shown. Evidently, I was not alone in wishing Mr. Monk a fond farewell. The series finale drew a record 9.44 million viewers. Prior to Friday night’s finale, Monk had never drawn more than 7 million total viewers. The wrap beat the previous high-water mark by 37 percent.

Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings data shows the series finale of Monk now stands as the most-watched episode of an original cable series, edging past TNT’s The Closer, which drew 9.21 million viewers.

For those of you not familiar with Monk, here is a brief history.

Adrian Monk was a brilliant detective for the San Francisco Police Department until his wife, Trudy, was killed by a car bomb in a parking garage. Monk believed the bomb was intended for him.

Trudy's death led Monk to suffer a nervous breakdown. He was discharged from the force and became a recluse, refusing to leave his house. He was finally able to leave home with the help of his nurse, Sharona Fleming. This allowed him to work as a private detective and a consultant for the SF PD despite his phobias embedded in his obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), which had grown appreciably worse after the tragedy.

Typically, Captain Leland Stottlemeyer and Lieutenant Randy Disher would call on Monk when they had trouble with a murder investigation. Monk's obsessive attention to detail allowed him to detect the most minute discrepancies, discover tendencies, and make connections that others would fail to make.

Other regulars were Natalie Teeger who was hired as Monk's new assistant, when Sharona decided to re-marry her ex-husband and move back to New Jersey. Teeger, a widow, was the mother of daughter Julie. Monk had a brother Ambrose, and a half-brother, Jack, Jr.

It should be noted that, in my humble opinion, the show lost something when the feisty Sharona moved on after season three. Much to my delight, she did appear in an episode in this last season.

Adrian Monk also went through two psychiatrists during the run of the show. Dr. Charles Kroger counseled the detective the first six seasons before giving way to Dr. Neven Bell during the final two.

The one case that Monk never had been able to solve was the death of his wife. Throughout the series, he continued to search for information about her death. Finally, he solved it in the series finale.

With this case closed, the series came to a close.

I was happy to see the obsessive-compulsive detective finally find closure with the tragic death of his beloved Trudy. It made me even happier to see him have joy in his life again when he was reunited with Molly, his 26-year-old stepdaughter, a newspaper movie critic.

Good-bye my old friend, I am going to miss you. Until next time…from the booth.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sickness Will Surely Take The Mind…

Back in 1968 when Pete Townshend and The Who wrote the rock opera Tommy, I doubt that they had ever imagined a television show called Survivor. And I guarantee they never envisioned a mullet-coiffed, 45-year-old ex-marine named Shambo. But somehow, some way, when they penned the song “Amazing Journey”, it was for Shannon “Shambo” Waters from Renton, Washington. You don’t believe me? Check out these lyrics:

Sickness will surely take the mind

Where minds can't usually go.

Come on the amazing journey

And learn all you should know.

Okay, granted she hasn’t learned a whole lot to date, but that mind is definitely going places that minds don’t usually go. And she has been on one hell of an amazing journey!

Perhaps Shambo got by the first 27 days being the loveable loser with the magnificent mullet. She was the proverbial square peg in a round hole. However, after tonight’s episode of Survivor Samoa, the girl is just certifiably crazy.

Either that, or she is tripping.

Yes, that must be it; she’s tripping on some sort of mind-altering, surreal trip just on the outskirts of reality. That would explain her constant irrational behavior. Or the incessant deer-in-the-headlights look she possesses.

And I know just what induced this bizarre journey she has embarked upon.

It was the $240 plate of Sea Noodles and Slug Guts that she won at the Survivor Food Auction held at the beginning of the show. Obviously, when you ingest this concoction, when topped with an ample sprinkling of parmesan cheese, your mind goes “where minds can’t usually go”.

This has to be the explanation for her unorthodox behavior and her inability to deal with reality. It has to be! No one else ate this putrid combination. The others fared much better at the auction.

The scrumptious Natalie had a $200 peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Monica enjoyed a $340 roasted chicken and McDreamy noshed on a huge cheeseburger and fries that cost him $500. Even John’s $300 slice of apple pie was a much better reward.

Yes, Shambo’s entrée has to be the culprit. What else could have caused the clairvoyant dream where God told her that Dave must be the next to go at Tribal Council? That dream sequence even blew my mind.

It had to be the Sea Noodles and Slug Guts Parmesan.

Although she did say she had that type of dream 30 times previously. And there is that humongous mullet. And she talked to those stupid chickens before she ate that mind-expanding meal.

Whether it was a psychedelic meal or just being nutty as a fruitcake, Shambo made Jeff Probst shake his head and question her sanity at Tribal Council. After seeing Shambo do a double take when Russell, the Hall of Famer said that today was “completely strategic”, Probst’s eyes bugged out and asked incredulously, “How is it possible that you are shocked to learn that people are scrambling to stay in the game?”

Shambo mumbled something about wanting someone who deserved the million dollars to win. The rest of the sane people at Tribal Council just shook their heads in disbelief. She had no clue.

This was made even more evident when her face twisted in astonishment when John was the one voted out. Jury member Laura summed it up when she whispered, “She has no idea what happened.” She was spot on. Shambo was the only person, besides John himself, not to cast their vote for John.

The girl just doesn’t get it. But The Who certainly did. Sickness will surely take the mind where minds can't usually go. Until next time…from the booth.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Two Thanksgiving Treats

Last Thursday I was treated to a delicious Thanksgiving meal courteous of my mother slaving over a hot stove. The traditional feast was all there, the turkey, mom’s secret recipe stuffing, various veggies and a wonderful lemon meringue pie. It was quite a treat. Later that evening, before turning in, I decided to tune into Conan O’Brien and see who his guests were going to be. That is when I received my second Thanksgiving Day treat.

Pee-wee Herman.

Yes, that’s right, Pee-wee Herman, star of television, theatre and the silver screen, was going to make an appearance on The Tonight Show. I was overcome with joy, ecstatic that I had happened to check Conan O’Brien out and was rewarded with Pee-wee Herman. How lucky was that?

If you haven’t already figured it out, I am a big fan of the P-man. I have been ever since my good friend Leon Rosko loaned me his tape of the Pee-wee Herman Show at The Roxy Theatre in L.A., where HBO filmed and aired it as a special on September 11, 1981.

The show featured the writing and acting of Groundlings alumni Phil Hartman and John Paragon, who would both reprise their characters on Pee-wee's Playhouse. The Pee-wee Herman Show played for five sellout months at The Roxy. Here is the cast:

• Pee-wee Herman - Paul Reubens
• Mailman Mike - John Moody
• Jambi - John Paragon
• Hammy - Tito Larriva
• Mr. & Mrs. Jelly Donut - Brian Seff, Monica Ganas
• Captain Carl - Phil Hartman
• Miss Yvonne - Lynne Marie Stewart
• Joan - Joan Leizman
• Hermit Hattie - Edie McClurg

There are many memorable moments, such as Pee-wee hypnotizing Joan and making her take her dress off. Or when he performs a musical tribute to Sly Stone with his neighbors, the Jelly Donuts. Of course any of Pee-wee’s scenes with the late, great Phil Hartman were outstanding, with Hartman portraying the lovesick Captain Carl.

Today I own a much-treasured copy of this performance on DVD.

As the stage performance gained further popularity, Pee-wee took to the big screen with Pee-wee's Big Adventure in 1985, toning down the adult innuendo for the appeal of children. This paved the way for Pee-wee's Playhouse, an Emmy Award winning children's series that ran on CBS from 1986-1991. Another film, Big Top Pee-wee, was also released in 1988.

Pee-wee's Playhouse was a children's television program starring the child-like Pee-wee Herman. The show, developed from the popular stage show and HBO special, was similar in style but featured less "adult" humor. The 5 seasons ran from September 13, 1986 – November 10. 1990.

Jambi, Captain Carl, Miss Yvonne joined Pee-wee in his television “Playhouse”. A young Laurence Fishbourne added to the madness as the jheri-curlrd Cowboy Curtis. Jimmy Smits and Sandra Bernhard both made cameo appearance during the show’s run.

I have the first two seasons of Pee-wee’s Playhouse on DVD.

It was announced October 6th that “The Pee-wee Herman Show” will begin a limited engagement starting January 12, 2010, at a new venue— Club Nokia @ LA Live. This theatrical production is for grown-ups and is appropriate for ages 16 to 106.

Pee-Wee is back!

Please do yourself a favor and check out these YouTube links to Pee-wee. The one from The Tonight Show is 10 minutes long and stops and starts a bit at the beginning, but is well worth the early distraction. Especially when Pee-wee and Conan enact the very first Thanksgiving dinner.

Pee-Wee and Captain Carl

Pee-Wee and the Jelly Donuts

Pee-wee on The Tonight Show

If you do get a chance to check these out, please leave a comment and let me know what you think. Okay, I have to get this posted so I can get downstairs and see if I can find my Pee-wee Herman doll. I am serious. Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Koos Thanksgiving Tradition

It was typically cold late November afternoon at Koos Inc. All four of the production lines were humming, spitting out Safe Step Ice Melter in packages ranging in size from 10-pound bags to 100-pound drums. All three of the forklift operators were flying around the plant, doing their collective best to keep up. They knew if they if they didn’t, a line would stop and they would hear it from the Production Supervisor, namely yours truly.

Okay, not all of the forklift operators were doing their best to keep up.

As I stood chatting with Will Meurer from the Manufacturing Department, veteran “forklifter” Butch Krienke screeched to a halt inches way from the two of us. Doing my best Arno Schubert impersonation, I bellowed, “What the f#@k is wrong with you Butch?”

Most of the work force paused momentarily to see what had caused my reaction.

Krienke, without batting an eye, yelled back,”Excuse me! I was just wondering if Danielson is picking up the stuff for Thanksgiving. You know it’s Monday already!”

This resulted in all of the crew in the immediate vicinity to cock an eye and wonder what was going to happen next.

Shooting a quick glance at Meurer, I replied in a firm, no-nonsense tone, telling Krienke that Danielson would be picking everything up Wednesday afternoon so he can hand it out between shifts. “Danielson” was Arnie Danielson, the Plant Manager.

Noticing that I now had everyone’s attention, my voice increased in volume when I asked Krienke if he had let the office know whether he wanted a turkey or a ham this year. He replied, “Hell ya, I told them I want the ham. They can keep those turkeys.”

Meurer then told Krienke, “You’re nuts, give me the bird any day.”

As Krienke laughed and sped off on his forklift, I noticed that the rest of the workers had stopped staring and were now having “small group discussions”. I left them go for a bit before finally asking them why nobody was working.

After a short pause, a bagger whose nickname was Bonehead stepped forward saying, “Paul, most of us just started working here and we didn’t know nothing about the turkey or ham thing. Hell, we didn’t even know we was getting anything for Thanksgiving!”

Remembering that the production at Koos was very seasonal and over 50% of the laborers were indeed brand new, I ordered the lines to shut down and had an impromptu plant meeting.

When machines had quieted and everyone had gathered, I asked the man they called Bull Dog to step forward. As he did, I asked him, “Dog, you’re a Union Steward, didn’t you tell the guys they had to make a choice between a turkey or a ham?”

Bull Dog looked bewildered for a moment, then grinning slightly, shrugged his shoulders and said, “Oops, my bad. Sorry Paul.” I told him not to worry, there was still time.

Catching the gaze of Krienke, Meurer, Bull Dog and several other Koos old-timers, I then looked at my watch before addressing the crew with my solution for this problem.

“Here’s what we are going to do”, I announced. “Since it is almost 2:00 o’clock and break time, any of you who haven’t already made your choice, get over to the office and let Millie or Louise know what you want, a turkey or a ham.”

The word ham hadn’t left my lips when 15 or 20 dirty, dusty, hardhat wearing workers darted for the ramp, making a beeline out of the plant, across the parking lot and into the office to let the unknowing ladies know whether they wanted a turkey or a ham for Thanksgiving.

With all the novices over at the office placing their orders, Tyrone Walker, a Koos employee of several seasons, walked past me and the other remaining veterans, shook his head and muttered, “You guys just ain’t right.”

As we burst into laughter, the phone in my office rang. Composing myself, I answered it. It was Millie, one of the secretaries from the office. Now Millie had a bit of a southern accent, so sometimes some of her words were hard to understand.

Not this time.

“You assholes did it again! A turkey or a ham! Happy Thanksgiving!” With that she hung up the phone rather firmly and I smiled to myself. The Koos Thanksgiving tradition had lived on.

Until next time…from the booth.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Battle Of The Runner-Ups

It seems that I missed quite a bit last night when I chose to watch the Eagles/Bears game rather than the American Music Awards. Evidently, last season’s American Idol silver medalist caused quite a stir on the award show by simulating a sex act and fervently kissing his male keyboardist. The night before, Susan Boyle, the second-place finisher from Britain’s Got Talent, performed a cover of the Rolling Stones' hit "Wild Horses" on British TV show X-Factor.

Subsequently, it comes as no great surprise that both performers have albums that debut this week.

British reality TV singing sensation Boyle's debut album went on sale Monday, having already become the most pre-ordered CD in the history of online retailer Amazon. Following her appearance on X-Factor, she then flew to New York where she performed at the city's Rockefeller Plaza and made media appearances.

Lambert's performance, two days before his debut album "For Your Entertainment" was released, has the Internet world buzzing. EW.com’s veteran American Idol reporter, Michael Slezak, had the following to say about Lambert:

“Talk about “No Boundaries”: Adam Lambert made his first big post-Idol splash tonight, closing the American Music Awards with a performance of his debut single “For Your Entertainment” that - to my surprise and disappointment - emphasized shock-and-awe imagery over his standard-operating vocal excellence.”


Honestly, I don’t plan on buying the 48-year-old Boyle’s "I Dreamed a Dream" CD or the 27-year-old Lambert’s "For Your Entertainment" CD. However, I will probably purchase a couple of Boyle’s songs, when they are available on iTunes.

That will not be the case with her American counterpart. Nothing about Lambert appeals to me.

I have seen both of the artists sing during on their respective reality shows. Boyle’s audition is now a legend on YouTube. The first time I saw it, I teared up. What can I say? I cry each time I watch the movie “Bang The Drum Slowly”.

Mr. Lambert’s music does not have the same effect on me. I went to YouTube to see why his AMA production was causing such a buzz. I will let you be the judge. It just conjured up past memories of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, causing me to vomit a little in my mouth.

Granted, I don’t, as a rule, watch American Idol. The last time I watched with any regularity, some girl by the name of Carrie Underwood was declared the winner. I guess I got out while the winners still amounted to something.

Now, because of my lovely friends “across the pond”, I see more clips of the aforementioned X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent than I watch American Idol. And for this, I would like to thank Bev, Debbie, Sue, Margaret, Christine and Mandy. Thank you!

Therefore, in my very unofficial “Battle Of The Reality Runner-Ups”, I must admit that I have a considerable British bias. Sorry, but I have to be honest. So, without further adieu, the winner is:


Apparently, because I prefer a dowdy Brit with a lovely voice to an edgy, androgynous glam-rocker, I have now officially become a curmudgeon. But you know what? I am okay with that.

Because Survivor Samoa is a “recap” episode this week, I will be treating all of my Koos fans (you know who you are) to a very special Thanksgiving installment. Until then…from the booth.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Hits Keep Coming

Oops he did it again! He couldn’t, could he? No…could he? Oh yes he did! Russell “Hall Of Famer” Hantz did indeed do it again. I don’t know who was the most exuberant at the conclusion of tonight’s episode of Survivor Samoa. The obvious choice would be the mullet-licious Shambo, although the Hall of Famer looked fairly pleased. And don’t overlook jury member Erik who could hardly contain his joy when Jeff Probst announced who the eleventh person to leave Samoa was. There were quite a few giddy people after the tribe had spoken tonight.

And I was one of them.

What a night! It started out predictably with Laura whining, bitching and moaning and Shambo acting like, well, you know…she was acting like Shambo does. Same old, same old. The action did pick up at the Reward Challenge.

Aiga was broken into two teams of five each. The team of Laura the whiner, Natalie the scrumptious, Brett the nondescript, Dave the gaunt and of course, the Hall Of Famer, beat out John the rocket scientist (honest, he is), Shambo the mullet queen, Monica the Laura-wannabe and the two guys who never win anything, McDreamy and Jaison.

The reward for their victory was a plane ride to a lovely little island, a Sprint camera for taking pictures and a lunch consisting of hot dogs, mac ‘n’ cheese, succulent fruit and several delicious pies.

Oh ya, and a clue to the new Hidden Immunity Idol back at camp.

Once the winners returned to camp Aiga, the race was on to find the Idol. For once the members of the old Galu tribe knew exactly what to do, follow the Hall Of Famer. Hell, he found the first two without the aid of a clue and this time he had a clue. All they had to do was let him lead them to the Idol.

They sent mean and vindictive Laura along with Dave, who is a fitness instructor to trail the Hall Of Famer. Well, I hope none of Dave’s clients watched tonight, because he couldn’t keep up with him. The Hall Of Famer left them both in his dust.

And, yes he did it again! Do you see why I called him an instant classic last week? He is, without question, the Survivor Hall Of Famer.

Next up was the Immunity Challenge. It was paramount for the old Foa Foa members that Shambo’s nemesis, Laura not be victorious in the challenge. Laura not having immunity would all but guarantee her elimination.

She did not win Immunity when the unthinkable happened and McDreamy finally won a challenge. It now looked like her fate was sealed and she would be excused from further competition.

Not so quick! In another unprecedented Survivor season 19 moment, the former Galu tribe decided to develop a strategy. Their well thought-out plot appeared to have worked when the vote at Tribal Council ended in a tie; with Laura and Natalie each receiving five votes each.

The next step was a second vote with Laura and Natalie not participating. If this vote ended in another tie, the eight people that voted would draw stones with one person drawing the “bad stone” and be sent home.

Okay, I said it was a well thought-out plot, I didn’t say it was very clever.

Unfortunately for Laura, John the rocket scientist flip-flopped on her in the second vote and she was sent packing. I guess she wasn’t around when John said, “It’s becoming impressive and bordering on annoying, how pathetic the analytical skills of the Galu tribe are.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself John, but then again, I’m not a rocket scientist.

Laura the Disgruntled

That being said, let’s sum up the result of Laura being voted off. Natalie is happy. Jaison is happy. McDreamy is happy. The Hall Of Famer is very happy. Shambo is extremely happy. I’m not too sure about John, but I am pretty sure that Dave, Monica and Brett are less than thrilled. I am positive that Laura is pissed. But what else is new?

And I am ecstatic. Until next week…from the booth.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Intervention Update

Back on Tuesday, September 22nd, I wrote a column titled “Intervention Needed”. Basically it was my way of telling myself to incorporate a few books into my steady diet of sports talk radio, the Internet and television. Having forced myself to close the MacBook and turn off 540 ESPN, I was actually able to start reading the pile of books that had been staring at me for so long.

Okay, the TV was on with the sound turned off and I was listening to iTunes, but there was honest-to-goodness reading going on.

I started off by finishing “Boys Will Be Boys” by Jeff Pearlman. This book chronicles the Dallas Cowboys rise to their glory days during the ‘90s.

It also describes in great detail all the drinking, drug abusing and whoring that “America’s Team” did during that same period. Just the stories involving Charles Haley are well worth the $25.95 that I paid for this book.

The next book that I sunk my teeth into was “Gladiator - A True Story Of ‘Roids, Rage and Redemption”. This was written by Dan Clark aka Nitro from the original American Gladiators television show.

It wasn’t a bad read; I wanted a little more behind the scenes type stuff. What it did have was a detailed account of Clark’s addiction to steroids. It was fairly evident that this was the ex-Gladiators attempt at some sort of cathartic healing.

Looking for something a bit “lighter”, my choice following Gladiator was “Bobby The Brain – Wrestling’s Bad Boy Tells All”. The 2002 autobiography of Bobby Heenan brought back many memories along with countless laugh out loud moments.

The man the fans called “Weasel” was just as funny in print form as he was when he was doing his thing on television. I am just glad the book ended when it did. The epilogue dealt with Heenan discovering that he has throat cancer. After the first two books, I had had enough grizzly reality.

Having said that, for some reason, I next chose to read “My Dirty Little Secrets (Steroids, Alcohol and God) the Tony Mandarich Story”. I began reading my autographed copy last night. I am almost halfway through, but I needed to take a break from it.

The book is very intense. It deals with the Green Bay Packers first-round draft pick in 1989 and his rampant steroid use. More importantly, it also reveals his addiction to alcohol and painkillers and his subsequent battle to overcome them.

Knowing a little bit about Mandarich, I am aware that his story does eventually result in an uplifting conclusion. It’s just very tough getting to that point. I can’t begin to imagine what it was like actually living it.

Needing to decompress when I finish Mandarich’s book, I will have two books left to select from, “Pistol - The Life of Pete Maravich” by Mark Kriegel and “Slap Shot Original” by Dave Hanson. Based on my knowledge of Pistol Pete’s life, I am leaning toward first delving into the world of one of the Hanson Brothers.

So there you have it, 3 1⁄2 books in less than two months and I am still going strong. Not bad, eh? As soon as I post this, I plan on getting back to the Mandarich book. Obviously there no longer exists a need for the aforementioned intervention to get me to read.

However, if there is something I can do about my obsession with Survivor, please let me know. Until next time…from the booth.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

An Instant Classic

Okay Fellow Survivor Geeks, after this evening’s Tribal Council, ten of the original twenty contestants of Survivor Samoa have been eliminated. By my calculations, that is exactly 50% and time for a Survivor Geek 101 review. Let’s begin with a little history lesson. Here is a list of the first eighteen Survivor winners.

• Season 1: Richard Hatch
• Season 2: Tina Wesson
• Season 3: Ethan Zohn
• Season 4: Vecepia Towery
• Season 5: Brian Heidik
• Season 6: Jenna Morasca
• Season 7: Sandra Diaz-Twine
• Season 8: Amber Brkich
• Season 9: Chris Daugherty
• Season 10: Tom Westman
• Season 11: Danni Boatwright
• Season 12: Aras Baskauskas
• Season 13: Yul Kwon
• Season 14: Earl Cole
• Season 15: Todd Herzog
• Season 16: Parvati Shallow
• Season 17: Bob Crowley
• Season 18: J.T. Thomas Jr.

What do all of these individuals have in common?

Each has Out Witted, Out Played and Out Lasted their way to $1,000,000. For this accomplishment, they are all stars, with several having competed in Survivor: All Stars and Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites.

Although they are all champions and therefore stars, it could be argued that they aren’t all Survivor legends. For clarification, let me offer this dictionary definition of legend.

Legend |ˈlejənd|
noun
An extremely famous or notorious person, esp. in a particular field: the man was a living legend

Obviously, based on this definition, all eighteen of the previous winners are not legends, not by a long shot. Conversely, there are several past competitors that, although they never won it all, deserve to be considered a Survivor legend.

With all that in mind, if I were to start a Survivor Hall of Fame, not only would several of the champions be members, but also the likes of Rupert Boneham, Jonny Fairplay and Wisconsin’s own Sue Hawk, would have to be taken into consideration.

The one thing all members of my Survivor Hall of Fame will have in common is that they have stood the proverbial test of time. The only qualification being is that they need to have competed in a completed season of Survivor.

Except for one man.

After tonight’s episode, I would have to give Russell Hantz special dispensation. The man is an instant classic. He is a first ballot Hall of Famer, hands down! There couldn’t be a Survivor Hall of Fame without Russell Hantz.

The Hall of Famer

Tonight he found a Hidden Immunity Idol for the second time with nary a clue. He also engineered the blindside elimination of yet another member of the old Galu tribe. Legendary stuff. I am beginning to tear up as I write this.

I used to call him the evil sock burner. I have described him as an evil genius. I have called him diabolical, sinister and fiendish, among other things. No more. From this point on, Russell Hantz will be simply referred to as the Hall of Famer.

With a huge target on his back, I don’t know how much time the Hall of Famer has left in Samoa. Hopefully he can continue his remarkable run and make it to the finals. It will be tough. But rest assured, I will treasure every single moment that he is still around. Until next time…from the booth.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Arno: A Koos Legend

When I wrote “More Koos Damn It” on October 27th, I received numerous comments clamoring for more of my tales about Koos Inc. At that time I promised my cousin Sues another Koos-themed blog at Thanksgiving time. Well evidently that wasn’t good enough. I have received several emails requesting more Koos stories, saying they couldn’t wait until Thanksgiving. They wanted more, and they wanted it NOW!

Okay Karen, Judi and Sues, here you go, another fractured Koos fable. But be careful of what you wish for, stories about Koos aren’t for the faint of heart.

My first account of Koos was in the blog “My First Labor Day”. In it, I mentioned that the storybook world of Koos included a veritable plethora of intriguing characters. Fellows with names like Virgil Tucker, Dead Man, Bone Head, Stretch Babic, Munk Ekern, Tyrone Walker and Ziggy Gutowski. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

To be sure, there were many more, but none like the legendary Arno Schubert. He weighed in at about 230 pounds, stood 6’2” and had a thick reddish-brown mop of hair. He sported a scraggly, unkept moustache and more often than not, an equally ill-groomed beard.

This cantankerous old Kraut was well known in every watering hole from downtown Kenosha all the way to Paddock Lake. The only time he didn’t have a cigarette in his mouth is when he removed it long enough to quaff a beer or spew an obscenity, both of which he did with a great frequency. His beer of choice was Pabst Blue Ribbon and his favorite expletive rhymed with rock-tucker.

Physically, Arno was a wreck. He had more scars on his body than teeth in his mouth. His lack of incisors and molars made his constant barrage of profanity somewhat humorous, while at the same time, a bit “damp”.

His most prominent scar was about a half inch wide and started between his shoulder blades, zigzagged down the length of his back, and disappeared somewhere in his pants. When asked how he acquired the massive scar, he uttered a few four-letter words and said he was run over by a tractor when he worked for a construction company.

Adding to the list of distinguishable features of Arno’s dilapidated body were his little fingers. They both went in a different direction, each at about a 45º angle. His explanation; they were broken by mobsters when he couldn’t pay a gambling debt. Not wanting to go to a Doctor, he set the fingers himself using Popsicle sticks.

Obviously I would have questioned the validity of these stories had anyone else told them to me. However, knowing Arno Schubert, they both seemed plausible, even to the point of being perfectly reasonable.

Over the years, Arno’s poor, mangled body continued to take more of a beating.

He lost a chunk out of one of his ears when he was struck in the back of the head by an outboard motor that had been in the rear of his station wagon. This occurred when he hit a concrete barrier while heading home on highway 50 after enjoying a few too many ice-cold PBRs.

He injured his head again at Koos in an accident where he fell off of a material hopper onto the concrete floor below with enough force to crack his protective hard hat. To his credit, he worked an hour or two before asking to go home with a “headache”.

Another notable incident that resulted in Arno gaining a new scar is when he was helping his father cut up fallen trees with a chainsaw. Let’s just say that when he pulled the jammed chainsaw out of the log, he had no “eye-dea” it would start running again. Ouch! Unfortunately, that is an entire story all by itself. And it is a dandy.

Besides the chainsaw story, there was the time he cooked a frozen TV dinner on top of a salamander, which is a kerosene heater used on construction sites.

Another Arno gem that could turn into an interesting blog is when he talked his good friend Kurt Plaisted into letting him play in a city league basketball game.

So, Karen, Judi and Sues, did this satisfy your cravings for more Koos? I sure hope so. Making you wait until Thanksgiving would be cruel. Rest assured, I will be providing another fix again soon, maybe even more Arno Schubert. Until next time…from the booth.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

New Tribe, Same Result

As predicted, the four members of Foa Foa and the eight of Galu have merged into one tribe this week. The new tribe has been dubbed Aiga, a Samoan term for “extended family”. The last time I saw a program with a family like this, it aired on HBO and was called The Sopranos. Mind you though, Tony Soprano hasn’t got anything on Russell Hantz, the evil sock burner.

Hantz is just as ruthless as the mob boss from New Jersey ever was. He has his faithful minions just like Soprano did. Remain faithful and you are okay, and you stick around.

Similar to when Soprano couldn’t trust Adriana anymore and she was "eliminated", Russell figured he could no longer trust Liz last week…Poof she was gone!

Tonight, prior to the merge, Russell told us that he had to make sure that, “My seed is planted in all the dumb asses’ heads.” That was five minutes into the show!

Ten minutes later, when the tribes had officially merged into one, they celebrated with a big feast. By the end of the feast Russell had Monica from the old Galu tribe feeding him grapes. His take – “I can already see that I am ruler of this kingdom! Who do you feed grapes to? The King, that’s who!”

Russell the Evil Sock Burner

Back at camp, after the feast, Russell started working his diabolical magic on the members of the old Galu tribe. When he saw that Laura couldn’t be trusted, her fate was sealed. Before going to the Individual Immunity Challenge, it looked as if he had convinced enough of Galu to do away with Laura. Of course the members of the old Foa Foa mob, oops, make that tribe, would be steadfast in their loyalty to their leader.

Unfortunately, the producers of Survivor threw a wrench into the plans when they went all politically correct and declared that there would be a male and a female Individual Immunity awarded tonight. Of course the annoying Laura won Immunity and sent Russell back to the drawing board.

The portion of the show right before Tribal Council is usually Reality Television gold. This is when longtime Survivor Geeks can usually get a rough idea of whose heads might be on the chopping block.

Tonight was no exception, but who would it be?

To make things even more interesting, Erik the tree dweller finally grew a set and decided he would be the one choosing who would be sent packing. What happened to the guy who was just happy to see a rainbow?

With this new development in the equation, the plot thickened.

Would it be Shambo and her glorious mullet? Would Laura’s equally annoying sidekick, Monica, be the next to go? Had Erik turned into Phil Leotardo (another Sopranos reference) and organized a revolt against Russell?

While with the Sopranos, you didn’t mess with Tony Soprano, likewise in Survivor Samoa you don’t mess with Russell Hantz. When Phil Leotardo foolishly went after Tony Soprano, he was rewarded by having his head ran over and crushed by an SUV carrying his own grandchild. Erik’s fate for going after Russell Hantz wasn’t quite as gruesome, but Jeff Probst did tell him that the Tribe had spoken.

Tonight’s episode was very satisfying for me. New tribe, same result. However, Fellow Survivor Geek Auntie Janet couldn’t disagree more. She hates Russell. So much so, that she actually is pulling for the annoying Laura based solely on the fact that Laura is out to get Russell. I tried to explain to her that it’s only business. Until next time…from the booth.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Go With The “Flo”

In Kenosha, Wisconsin, Halloween has come and gone with little fanfare. Unless you count the “controversy” created when Mayor Bosman and the Common Council switched the day for Trick or Treating from Sunday, October 25th to Saturday, October 31st. Not having any children, I am not a big fan of this holiday. I fully understand the appeal for young children, but cannot honestly comprehend the fascination for some adults.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy seeing ladies dressed up in revealing outfits pretending to be Elvira or a naughty nurse. But for every scantily clad lass, there is some dude in drag sporting a full beard to bring you back to reality. It just seems like an excuse to dress up and pretend like you are something that you are not, but might want to be. I just don’t get it.

And then it hit me. A Halloween costume that I could totally understand ladies wanting to wear. In this costume they would be portraying someone that while being a media icon, is both highly respected and at the same time, the desire of every red-blooded American male.

Who is this person who that the Boston Herald reported as being the subject for one of the most popular Halloween costumes this year?

Her name is Flo.

She is the Progressive Auto Insurance chick, lighting up televisions in a series of commercials as a perky cashier that pitches the money saving merits of Progressive to customers. She's a bundle of energetic contradictions, bursting here, retracting there. Her expressions blink and change like a neon sign. Her eyes are popping globes. And she just sold you a bunch of car insurance.

She works in a sterile, all-white big-box store, and her rosy-cheeked makeup stands out like paint, with her 'tricked-out name tag' and her '60s style eye makeup and her kissable red lips.

She is played by 38-year-old actress and comedienne Stephanie Courtney and has been cited in news articles as having a sizable fan base on social networks like facebook. After years of doing improv theatre, commercials and small roles on TV and in movies, Courtney hit it big as the delightfully quirky Flo.

You can’t turn on TV without seeing one of her wonderful Progressive commercials. A favorite of mine is the one where she accuses the man she is waiting on to be psychic. Her facial impression is priceless!

Another memorable ad that I really enjoy is the one where she encounters an Elvis impersonator in the store. When she hears, “Thank you, thank you very much” from the imitator, the unflappable Flo fires back, “You’re welcome, welcome very much.” Hilarious!

Obviously, in my humble opinion, Flo is the perfect person to portray on Halloween. I can now understand why any honorable woman would choose to go as her, if they really feel the need to dress up. Until next time…from the booth.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Dirty Dozen

Due to the collapse of Russell the black-hearted last week, Galu was left without a leader. Without consulting the ladies of their tribe, the Galu men decided they wanted Shambo and her spectacular mullet as their new leader. Under Shambo’s leadership, Galu didn’t miss a beat, trouncing Foa Foa in both the Reward and the Immunity Challenges on tonight’s episode of Survivor Samoa.

Tonight’s elimination of Liz leaves Foa Foa with only four members to compete against the eight remaining for Galu.

With the odds heavily stacked against them, things don’t look very good for the scrappy Foa Foa crew. What does this do to the diabolical plans of Russell the evil sock burner? Jeff Probst had the quote of the evening when he closed Tribal Council by saying to Foa Foa, “You might not be very good at challenges, but you are getting real good at blindsiding.”

They have had enough practice, they better be good at it by now.

Fortunately for Foa Foa, it looks like that all might be changing next week. The coming attractions give all indications of, dare I say, a merge. Members from both tribes were shown eating together and celebrating while sporting brand new blue buffs.

The merge! Twelve remaining competitors. An even dozen. A dirty dozen.

This dirty dozen is made up of the following Survivor hopefuls:

1. Russell the evil sock burner and fiendish mastermind
2. Jaison, who doesn’t seem to want to play anymore
3. Mick, nicknamed “McDreamy”
4. Natalie, who I pray stays around as long as possible
5. Shambo, the dimwitted queen of all things mullet
6. Laura, the Harley riding, Starbuck drinking Christian lady
7. Monica, who makes me sick every time she opens her mouth
8. Kelly, who I haven’t seen open her mouth
9. Erik, the tree dweller who can’t believe how fortunate he is
10. John, who has thankfully quit wearing those bright blue Speedos
11. Brett, the pleasant T-shirt designer
12. David, the Mick Fleetwood wannabe

That’s whom we have left, the dirty dozen that will be competing for the $1,000,000 and title of “Sole Survivor”.

Here is a quick recap of those who have already left the game and don’t even get to be on the jury.

Episode 1 – Marisa, Foa Foa
Episode 2 – Mike, Foa Foa (medical) and Betsy, Foa Foa
Episode 3 – Ben, Foa Foa
Episode 4 – Yasmin, Galu
Episode 5 – Ashley, Foa Foa
Episode 6 – Russell the Black-hearted, Galu (medical)
Episode 7 - Liz, Foa Foa

That’s it for tonight, time for me to watch the World Series. However, before closing, I have to share with you this Russell the evil sock burner moment from tonight’s episode. Upon discovering that the visiting Laura studied theology, Russell broke into a villainous grin and told her, “I can spot a Christian a mile away.” Then he proceeded to lie to her about the Hidden Immunity Idol.

Do you think there might be a rotten egg or two in this dirty dozen? Until next time…from the booth.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More Koos Damn It!

In my column, My First Labor Day, you were introduced to Koos Inc. Koos provided me with my first post high school job and I enjoyed it so much that I stayed there for nearly 17 years. I guess I am a glutton for punishment. Based on their requests for “more Koos”, evidently so are several readers of this blog. So, to keep with the season and at the same time honor these requests, this column is about a very scary moment at Koos.

In that first column I mentioned the infamous Jap Shack. This rundown building served two functions, those being an “employee lounge” and a storage shed. The contents of each section had little in common. In the storage portion there were rusty machine parts and piles of empty fertilizer packaging that had become obsolete. Housed in the “employee lounge” was a toilet complete with sink, a couple of beat-up lockers and two dilapidated picnic tables.

However, there was one obvious common denominator for the two areas. It was filth, and plenty of it! If it was humid, everything was covered with a slimy film of mud that made the simple act of walking adventurous. If there was no humidity, all you had to contend with was dust and lots of garbage.

Humidity or no humidity, there was always ample amounts of garbage spread throughout the Jap Shack. It was everywhere. The odiferous trash made the “employee lounge” a less than desirable place when lunchtime rolled around. Hell, it made using the toilet less than desirable.

Occasionally when the piles of garbage got too high and the conditions became intolerable, an employee was sent over to remove the crud and make it somewhat bearable. In 1975, on a warm, sultry summer afternoon, it was my turn to take on the squalor that inhabited the Jap Shack.

With a half hour left in the shift I was told that someone would be over with the front-end loader in 15 minutes, so I should get my fat ass over there. Mumbling under my breath, I grabbed a shovel and push broom and trudged down the flight of steps, making my way to the misery that awaited me.

I trust it didn’t get past you that a front-end loader was required to remove the mounds of debris that occupied the Jap Shack.

Here is what the job entailed. What you did was start in one corner with the broom and start shoving the garbage into piles. When the accumulation got too large, you shoveled it into the two garbage cans. When those were filled, you starting filling huge plastic bags with the foul-smelling mess.

Once all of the garbage was collected, you had to drag it over to a large door located in the storage section. That’s where the front-end loader comes into play. First you emptied the garbage cans into its’ bucket. You completed the job by tossing all of the bags on top so that the loose rubbish from the cans didn’t blow around as the driver hauled it away.

On that warm, sultry summer afternoon in 1975, I never completed the job of cleaning the Jap Shack. Let me explain.

Oh, I almost finished it, but not quite. I had swept it all into enormous piles. I had shoveled the garbage into the garbage cans. After filling the cans, I shoveled the rest into the huge plastic bags. I did all of that. I dragged the first garbage can over to the door.
All that was left was to get the other one and the bags so that they could be hauled away. Then the job would be done.

But it never happened. Here s what happened that prevented me from completing this miserable task.

The first garbage can that I dragged over was a large round barrel type made of rubber with a removable lid. The second one was metal with a domed top that featured a swinging door.

When I inserted my hand inside the damned swinging door. It happened! It had been hiding inside waiting to shock and send fear into my very soul. It was hideous and it was poised inside that can aching to terrorize me, its’ unknowing victim.

“It” was a large, ugly brown rat that jumped out of the garbage can, landed on my hand, proceeded to crawl up my arm all the way to my shoulder. At that point, the rabies-infested rodent stopped on my shoulder, barred its pointed yellow teeth and stared into my eyes. My thunderous scream must have startled this fur-covered 10” spawn of Satan, because it jumped off me as I ran to the door.

"It"

The driver of the front-end loader arrived shortly after, laughed and asked why I was so pale and where was the rest of the garbage. I then, not so politely, told him to do something to himself that isn’t physically possible. That’s why I never finished cleaning the Jap Shack.

Hopefully this will satisfy Judi and the others that were pining for “more Koos” stories. Personally, having to relive that moment, I am now going to lay on the floor of the shower in the fetal position as warm water sprays down on me. Until next time…from the booth.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

You Don’t Mess With The Mullet

Survivor Samoa continues to shine as one of the best in the nineteen-season history of the award-winning reality show. And tonight wasn’t any different. Episode 6 provided us with a unique challenge, more Survivor firsts and plenty of drama. It also presented us with an important life lesson.

YOU DON’T MESS WITH THE MULLET!

The Reward Challenge tonight was unique because it incorporated a contraption from American Gladiators – the Atlasphere. Each tribe had one member inside what amounts to a giant hamster ball. Two blindfolded teammates then pushed the ball through a course to a giant maze where a ball had to be manipulated through it by the visionless members under the verbal direction of the person in the ball.

Emmy award winning Jeff Probst announced that the reward for finishing first was some piping hot pizza with the caveat that both teams would be going to Tribal Council, win or lose. As could be expected, this brought moaning and groaning from both the Galu and the Foa Foa tribes.

Probst quickly squelched the grumbling by explaining that although both tribes would be attending Tribal Council, only the losing tribe would be voting somebody off. The winners would be merely observing while enjoying their pizza dinner. This would surely make for interesting theater.

Well it almost happened. I say almost because the challenge was never completed because Russell the black-hearted leader of Galu collapsed in a heap on top of the giant maze. The challenge was halted and medics rushed to his aid.

After comprehensive medical treatment and a second collapse, Russell the black-hearted was deemed unfit to continue. He was put on a stretcher and whisked off for further medical attention.

The second collapse was as graphic as anything that I have ever witnessed on Survivor. Later at Tribal Council, Jeff Probst would describe it as the scariest moment he has ever experienced in his 19 seasons on the show.

As his pulse dropped to 60 and his eyes slowly rolled back into his head, I was honestly concerned for the well being of Russell the black-hearted. It was then that I was reminded of that important life lesson.

YOU DON’T MESS WITH THE MULLET!

Russell the black-hearted after messing with Mullet

Do you remember what I wrote at the end of last Thursday’s Survivor blog? Let me refresh your memory - “What goes around comes around, I guess. Hopefully Russell the black-hearted will soon get his comeuppance.”

What he did to the Magnifecenttly-Mulleted Shambo last week was inexcusable. What was he thinking? Did he think his heinous actions would go unpunished? Justice was indeed swift. Paybacks are a…well you know. I do have to say this one more time.

YOU DON’T MESS WITH THE MULLET!

Because of the unusual circumstances, no winner was declared and nobody partook of the pizza. Both tribes were instructed that they still had to appear at Tribal Council so that each could vote off one of its members.

The thirteen contestants at Tribal Council was the largest assembly ever in Survivor history. Unfortunately, after Probst did a nice job of building animosity between the two tribes, he basically said, “Wasted you. Nobody I going home from either tribe.” What a let down. Until next time, remember…YOU DON’T MESS WITH THE MULLET!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Who’s Fooling Who?

Something occurred recently that caused me to wake up this morning that made feel the need to write about it. The incident was that someone that I had trusted lied to me. It was nothing major, just something that bothered me when it happened. I know people have cause to lie to one another for various reasons. The reason this lie irritated me so much was the type of lie that it was. This variety of lie really bothers me.

Maybe I should explain a few different sorts of lies that exist in my world.

Located on the right-hand side of my blog, right below my blog list is a section labeled Favorite Lyrics. These are lyrics from various songs, which for various reasons, mean something to me. Below the picture of Bruce Springsteen are two lines from his song, The River:

Is a dream a lie if it don't come true

Or is it something worse?

This sort of lie is probably the most innocent and least harmful. Usually the only person affected by this is the person creating the fabrication. It is fairly commonplace for people to want something so bad that it almost seems real to them. If not taken any further it shouldn’t affect others.

However, if it is taken to the next level, it can become something worse. This is when a person’s lie becomes acceptable to them and in their own mind it is reality. This has the potential to become a real problem. Perhaps this t-shirt will help illustrate what I am trying to say.


This may appear to be only a witty line from a Seinfeld episode, but stop and think about it for a minute. Don’t we all have people in our lives that actually believe their own bullshit? I know I do, and they will remain nameless in this particular column. Like George Costanza said, “Jerry, just remember, it's not a lie if you believe it.”

As bothersome as this form of story telling can be, it’s not the one that resulted in me being agitated enough to write about it. The title of Judge Judy Sheindlin’s book best describes this style of deception.

“Don’t Pee on My Leg and Tell Me It’s Raining” says it quite succinctly.

As far as I am concerned, you can be as dishonest as you feel you have to be, but please don’t think that I am so stupid that I won’t eventually figure out what’s going on. Unfortunately that is what happened to me and it hurt because it came from a person that I thought was a friend. Sorry, Emil and Milly Vagnoni didn’t raise any dummies.

To borrow a line from another song, “Que Sera Sera, whatever will be, will be." Until next time…from the booth.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

An Evil Russell

Each Thursday, at some point, I think to myself, “I sure hope that tonight’s Survivor is a good episode.” To date, I can honestly say that Survivor Samoa has provided me with five hours of stellar reality television. Despite this being its nineteenth season, the Emmy award-winning program has not only started out strong, but is actually gaining momentum as it goes. A key contributor to this is the personalities of the competitors. And the first personality that comes to mind is Russell.

Before you start to think that I am writing another column detailing the diabolical antics of Russell Hantz the evil sock burner, I had better explain something. Things aren’t always as they appear, especially in the ever-changing world of Survivor. I do indeed despise Russell. He is rapidly becoming one of the most loathsome characters in recent memory.

But it’s not Foa Foa’s Russell Hantz.

It is Russell Swan the black-hearted leader of the Galu tribe. Remember I said that he “rapidly” becoming one of the most loathsome characters. Russell Hantz was, is and will always be a despicable bastard. That being said, Russell Swan is doing his best to catch his namesake from Foa Foa as expeditiously as possible. Tonight he took great strides in accomplishing this feat.

Although he is an attorney, I initially gave Russell Swan the benefit of the doubt. Even when chosen to lead the Galu tribe, he seemed to be pretty levelheaded. But then he made the bone-headed move of choosing comfort items over a tarp and other functional articles. His reasoning? He had to keep “his ladies” happy. That my friends, is nothing compared to the move he pulled tonight.

This evening, Russell the black-hearted, committed such a heinous act after the Reward Challenge, that I blurted out an expletive deleted. Yes it is true, I audibly referred to a Survivor contestant as part of the anatomy that both men and women possess, and it wasn’t nose. It is located much lower on the body.

What he did was, without question, one of the most evil and heartless acts ever displayed toward another human being, even on Survivor. Let me give you the reprehensible details.

The Reward Challenge was the infamous Food Challenge, a Survivor staple. The “foods” used all had a Samoan flavor to them (pun intended). The two competing contestants would spin a wheel to see what goodies would make up their concoction. Then the ingredients were placed in a blender by Jeff Probst and whisked into a Samoan Smoothie. All the contestants had to do was to drink it.

The Reward for winning this gastronomic challenge was a barbeque complete with big juicy steaks, what appeared to be bratwursts and all the fixings. Additionally, the winning team’s leader would have to send one of his fellow tribe mates over to the other tribe to gather “valuable” information. The obvious rub was that this person did not get to partake in the scrumptious feast.

Because Galu had three more members than Foa Foa, they sat out Kelly, Laura and John. It was tied at four when Ashley couldn’t keep her smoothie down and Galu was victorious yet again, the meaty meal was theirs to enjoy. The only thing remaining was for Russell Swan to elect someone to go over to Foa Foa on the spy expedition and miss out on the reward.

That is when he did it. That is when he became Russell the black-hearted.

He had the audacity to select Shambo along with her glorious mullet to go to Foa Foa and miss out on this much-needed protein packed treat. He did this despite the fact that she did her part by slugging down a grotesque Samoan Smoothie consisting of giant clam, fly-covered octopus, sea snail and noni juice.

What was he thinking?!? Wouldn’t common decency indicate that you send one of the three that had not participated in the challenge? But no, even as Shambo pleaded for him to “show her some love”, Russell the black-hearted sent her away with out any dinner.

With this one cowardly, lowdown, abominable act, Russell the black-hearted had entered into the rarified air formerly occupied solely by Russell Hantz the evil sock burner.

The show concluded with Tribal Council, where Team Foa Foa was forced to regurgitate the lovely Ashley for having done so earlier during the Reward Challenge. What goes around comes around, I guess. Hopefully Russell the black-hearted will soon get his comeuppance. Until next time…from the booth.