Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Wow, what a snooze fest! As exhilarating as last week’s episode of Survivor: Nicaragua was, tonight’s was just as boring. It was mundane. It was humdrum, bordering on tiresome. It was run-of-the-mill. Tedious. Dull. Uneventful. At best, tonight’s show was ordinary, very ordinary. So much so, that I am sure that Fellow Survivor Geeks would agree when I label it a yawner. There were only a handful of moments worth mentioning, but they were few and far between.

Here is what I had on my notepad:

• Angry Black Woman Nay started the show off by spouting off about how much she hates Fabio. Blah, blah, blah…

• Yve was digging it when Coach Jimmy Johnson was acting like a monkey.

• Fabio gets too close to the campfire and almost set his head on fire. He says, “Wow, that was like smoking weed.” Maybe Nay has a point…

• Once again the Immunity and Reward Challenges are combined. I hope this doesn’t become a trend.

• By winning the combo Challenge, the Young Snots won a bunch of spices and produce along with Immunity. Hidden in the basket of produce that Kelly B. and Nay are carrying is a Hidden Individual Immunity clue.

• Both Kelly B. and Nay notice the clue. When they get back to camp, Nay pushes Kelly B. from the basket and wrestles the clue away from the fallen amputee.

• Nay then storms off down the beach where she spewing pearls of wisdom like, “Who does they think they is?” and “Next time I will push you so hard your leg will fly off!” Nay sums up her dissertation with, “Ya, I went ‘hood! But I didn’t go ghetto. Nay don’t go ghetto!” I beg to differ.

That was about it for excitement.

Back at camp Old Fart it became apparent that it would come down to either Coach Jimmy or Dan (complete with his scared knee) being voted off.

At Tribal Council, host Jeff Probst does what he does better than anyone – stirs the pot! After getting the Old Farts arguing about who the weakest link is, he finally takes a poll and asks each one if they think they are among the weakest.

Well, wouldn’t you know it. The only Old Fart that would admit to being weak was Coach Jimmy! Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. I think that Probst was sadder to see him get voted off then he was.

Hopefully next week will be a bit more stimulating. There should be a battle among the Old Farts to see who takes Coach Jimmy’s role as leader. I see the conniving Marty and crazy Jimmy T. squaring off for the position.

Lastly, the coming attractions for next week showed Angry Black Woman Nay going all ballistic once again. Surprise, surprise! But please remember, Nay might be ‘hood but Nay ain’t ghetto. Until next time…from the booth.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Productive Multitasking

Yesterday, shortly after noon, I posted the following status on facebook: “Paul E. Vagnoni is listening to TRadio and watching the Badgers while he organizes and burns his CDs onto iTunes. Who says men can't multi-task?” Surprisingly, there were no smart ass comments; just four “Likes” (Thanks Jill, Judi, Gus and Sue). Seriously though, I was actually multitasking. Not that this was the first time that I’ve done more than one thing at the same time. To be honest, on any given Saturday I am listening to the radio while watching a game on TV as I do something on the computer. But this Saturday was different – I was being productive!

Allow me to explain.

I had been watching the Wisconsin Badgers play the Austin Peay Governors since 11:00 am. At noon, as I do on most Saturdays, I tuned the radio to my friend Jim Selovich’s entertaining show, TRadio. This was nothing too unusual. It’s what I had started doing about an hour before the Badgers game that made my multitasking truly productive.

At 10:00 I had decided to organize and make a list of all of my CDs. Really they were fairly organized, but I had wanted to create a list for some time. So I pulled the first bunch off of the shelf. What do you know? All eighteen of them were The Who!

What I did next really kicked the productivity level up a notch. Not only did I create a list on my MacBook, I also opted to burn some of my favorite songs onto iTunes. Not only was this productive, it was also time consuming.

By 5:00 pm I had watched the Badgers destroy Austin Peay, listened to Tradio and had started watching the Yankees and the Red Sox game. Oh ya, the productive part. I had cataloged 102 of my CDs and burned enough songs to push my song total to 425 on iTunes. Thing is, I was only about halfway done.

I decided the rest could wait for another “productive” multitasking day. Now it was time to see what I had recorded so far.

A lot of you know that I love The Who. They are easily my favorite band ever. So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that I had sixteen R.E.M. albums. Here they are: Automatic For The People, Dead Letter Office, Document, Eponymous, Everybody Hurts, Find The River, Green, Life’s Rich Pageant, Monster, Murmur, New Adventures In Hi – Fi, Out Of Time, Radio Song (Single), Reckoning, Reconstruction Of The Fables, The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite.

What was even more amazing was that my playlist for R.E.M. was larger than the one for The Who. The playlist for The Who had 29 songs. What about R.E.M.? Check this out.

1. Bang And Blame – Monster
2. Begin The Begin – Life's Rich Pageant
3. Burning Down – Dead Letter Office
4. Can't Get There From Here – Fables Of The Reconstruction
5. Catapult – Murmur
6. Crush With Eyeliner – Monster
7. Cuyahoga – Life's Rich Pageant
8. Disturbance At The Heron House – Document
9. (Don't Go Back To) Rockville – Reckoning
10. Driver 8 – Fables Of The Reconstruction
11. Everybody Hurts – Automatic For The People
12. Everybody Hurts [Live] – Find The River (Single)
13. Exhuming McCarthy – Document
14. Fall On Me – Life's Rich Pageant
15. Femme Fatale – Dead Letter Office
16. Find The River – Automatic For The People
17. Find The River – Find The River (Single)
18. Finest Worksong – Document
19. Gardening At Night – Dead Letter Office
20. Get Up – Green
21. Half A World Away – Out Of Time
22. I Am Superman – Life's Rich Pageant
23. I Believe – Life's Rich Pageant
24. It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) – Eponymous
25. King Of Comedy – Monster
26. Love Is All Around – Radio Song (Single)
27. Man On The Moon – Automatic For The People
28. Maps And Legends – Fables Of The Reconstruction
29. Moral Kiosk – Murmur
30. Nightswimming – Automatic For The People
31. The One I Love – Document
32. Orange Crush – Green
33. Pale Blue Eyes – Dead Letter Office
34. Perfect Circle – Murmur
35. Pop Song 89 – Green
36. Pretty Persuasion – Reckoning
37. Radio Free Europe – Murmur
38. So. Central Rain – Reckoning
39. Stand – Green
40. Strange Currencies – Monster
41. Talk About The Passion – Murmur
42. There She Goes Again – Dead Letter Office
43. Tongue – Monster
44. Toys In The Attic – Dead Letter Office
45. Untitled – Green
46. Voice Of Harold – Dead Letter Office
47. Wendell Gee – Fables Of The Reconstruction
48. What's The Frequency, Kenneth? – Monster
49. Wolves, Lower – Dead Letter Office
50. You Are The Everything – Green

As legendary softball umpire Ernie Pascucci would say, “Unbelievable!” A whopping 50 songs totaling over three hours of listening pleasure. I was astounded to say the least.

I am anxious to see what secrets are uncovered when I tackle the rest of my collection. Who would have thought that multitasking could be revealing as well as productive? Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Another Psycho Gone

Last Wednesday marked the opening night of Survivor: Nicaragua. My first blog chronicled the demise of Wendy Jo the insane goat farmer from the Espada tribe. I mentioned that Wendy Jo was a bit manic. At that time I thought she had set the “Psycho” bar pretty high for season 21 of the award-winning reality show. Boy was I wrong!

Note: from now on the older tribe, Espada will be referred to as the Old Farts. La Flor, the young tribe will be known as the Young Snots.

The episode tonight quickly established two new nutcases from the Old Farts gang. First there is Holly. She didn’t like the way Dan the mafia boss looked at her, so she filled his $1600 alligator shoes with sand and left them in the water. He is lunatic number two for bringing shoes that expensive to compete on Survivor.

At this point I was assuming that the Old Farts had cornered the market on crackpots. Boy was I wrong again!

When the Young Snots tribe lost the Immunity/Reward Challenge, they lost much more than Immunity, a treasure chest loaded with fishing gear and a clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol. They also lost their frickin’ minds!!!

At Tribal Council they collectively left host Jeff Probst stunned with his mouth hanging open. And that was in the first sixty seconds! Although they came unhinged as a group, there were four Young Snots that really stood out.

Chase quickly proved he was a spineless jellyfish as he sputtered and stammered while trying to explain whom he was going to be loyal to.

Fabio was, well he was just Fabio. He really isn’t very bright and proved it every time he opened his mouth. Nothing but stupidity comes out of his mouth, which only infuriates the angry black woman.

Ah yes, the angry black woman. That would be Nay who stole Fabio’s socks because she couldn’t find one of hers. You ask why Fabio? Because she doesn’t like him, that’s why. And she announced it in grandiose fashion at Tribal Council.

Quite a representation of the youth of America. But wait; remember I said there were four fools from the Young Snots tribe that were head and shoulders above the rest. The fourth member of this moronic quartet is Shannon the douche bag.

I know, that’s pretty strong language, but if you witnessed his performance at Tribal Council you would probably say I was going easy on him.

Right out of the box he told Chase the spineless that if he didn’t vote his girlfriend (Brenda) off, he would be next. I believe this caused Chase to wet himself.

When Sash told him to calm down, Shannon the douche bag promptly asked him if he was gay. Repeatedly. At that point, I blurted out, “What the f*ck?” This ignoramus was totally out of control.

All kidding aside, the real sad part of all of this is that this loud-mouthed, homophobic jerk is the father of three young children. Let’s just hope that their mother was smart enough not to let them watch their father’s brainless display.

To their credit, the Young Snots mustered up enough sense to vote off Shannon. It had to be done. Although it did amaze me that two imbeciles went along with him and cast votes for Brenda.

So where are we after two weeks? The Old Farts have eliminated their half-baked goat farmer, while the Young Snots disposed of their douche bag. Surely things will be a bit calmer next week. Oh wait, maybe not. I almost forgot that the coming attractions showed Nay the angry black woman threatening to beat amputee Kelly B. with her prosthetic leg. I can’t wait.

Until next time…from the booth.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Stepford Wives III

In my blog “Survey Results Part 2” I revealed answers submitted to a survey question that I posed in an earlier blog titled “Survey Says”. The question was “What subject would you like me to blog about next?” One of the responses suggested that I do a movie review. I explained that I don't really go to many movies these days. Actually, I have never been a big moviegoer. It’s not that I don’t enjoy movies, I do. I just don’t go to the theater to see them first run. That being said, I still wanted to honor that request and do some sort of movie review.

The Stepford Wives is a movie that was released the year that I graduated from high school. I am referring to the original from 1975. Yes I know that makes me really old. Anyways, that’s the movie I am going to discuss today.

The Stepford Wives is based on a 1972 satirical thriller novel written by Ira Levin. The story concerns Joanna Eberhart, a photographer and young mother who begins to suspect that the disturbingly submissive housewives in her new blissful Connecticut community may be robots created by their husbands. Some feel the novel is not only a parody on stereotypical American housewives, but also a study on feminism.

Basically the film depicts how the women happily go about their housework - cleaning, doing laundry, and cooking gourmet meals - to please their husbands. Unfortunately, Bobbie and Joanna discover that the village's wives have been replaced with robots, and Joanna’s husband wants in on the action.

Gradually, Joanna begins to realize that all of her friends have been replaced, and that she is in great danger. Her psychiatrist advices that she takes the kids and get "the hell out of Stepford", but the men are hiding Joanna's children.

I found the movie entertaining with an extremely eerie quality. Not Deliverance creepy, mind you, but freaky nonetheless. Katharine Ross turns in a strong performance as the paranoid victim. Peter Masterson portrays her husband with his real life seven-year-old daughter, Mary Stuart Masterson making her film debut as one of their children.

Other recognizable actors in the picture are Patrick O'Neal, in the role of the local men's club leader and Paula Prentiss standing out as Ross' lively best friend. Sadly, she becomes a robotic Stepford wife after a weekend "vacation."

Although The Stepford Wives may never be considered anything more than an engaging cult horror film, it has definitely left its mark. The term "Stepford Wife" is often used in popular culture, usually as a reference to a submissive and docile housewife.

Evidently the original had a strong enough following to merit a 2004 remake. The Stepford Wives II had a star-studded cast; featuring: Nicole Kidman, Matthew Broderick, Bette Midler, Christopher Walken, Faith Hill, Glenn Close and Jon Lovitz. Even Larry King had a cameo.

Despite this prolific group of thespians, Stepford Wives II was a flop. Even though the original film and book had a tremendous cultural impact, the remake was marked by behind-the-scenes infighting, was dismissed by critics and lost approximately $40M at the box office.

Before I wrap up my first attempt at a movie review, I wanted to pitch an idea that came into my head while writing it. Well, to be honest with you, the current political scene gave me the idea. Hell, full disclosure. The current political scene spurred the entire blog.

Here is my brainchild for Stepford Wives III –

Not wanting to be too political, I will leave it to my readers to come up with the name for this version. I do have a few suggestions. How about The Anti-Stepford Wives or The Stepford Wives Rule America? Until next time…from the booth.

Friday, September 17, 2010

It’s Sidewalk Sale Time!

Sister Act Painting and Creative Treasures is having a big sidewalk sale on the corner of 38th and Roosevelt Road. My longtime friend Sharon Ekern Buege is the owner/operator of this eclectic business and promises bargains galore. The sale started yesterday and continues today and tomorrow starting at 10:00. Sharon and her crew are even bringing up the buried treasures from the basement. The store features furniture, jewelry, purses, knick-knacks, doll clothes…you name it, Sister Act has it!

I have been to Sister’s Act on several occasions. Each time there were was something different in the store. Granted it is more of a “chick” store, but I still was amazed at the variety of merchandise available. Make sure to ask about “Yardzee”, you won’t believe it when you see it!

Not only do they offer a vast array of goods, Sister Act can customize your walls or your furniture. Sharon’s motto is “We are putting the funk back in your junk.” You can call 308-4395 for more info.

Do yourself a favor and stop by Sister Act’s sidewalk sale this weekend. Tell Sharon that Paul sent you. You won’t be sorry. And while you are there, pick up a copy of "SOME KENOSHA SOFTBALL". Although it’s not on sale, it is well worth it!

Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

No Shortage Of Characters

When host Jeff Probst said, “39 days, 20 people, one Survivor” I let go a heavy sigh. It might be Wednesday but Survivor is back. This is the 21st season of Survivor and I have watched each and every episode of all 21 seasons. This also marks the fifth season that I have done a Survivor blog. The first, Survivor Gabon, was written nearly two years ago on September 26, 2008. The toughest thing then was knowing what the competitors were going to be like. Early in the season you just hoped there would be a few colorful personalities, some characters.

The early indications are that season 21 has nothing to worry about. There is no shortage of characters.

Let’s see, we have Jud from the La Flor, the young tribe. He was quickly nicknamed Fabio because of his flowing blond locks. Personally, I think Spicoli would be a more apropos moniker. You remember Jeff Spicoli from the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High. He was the surfer dude who enjoyed smoking copious amounts of marijuana. Wow, dude.

From the old tribe, Espada, there is Daniel, a Paulie Walnuts wannabe complete with the hairdo and gold chains. It looks as if Daniel is used to people listening when he talks.

Also from Espada is Wendy Jo the lunatic goat farmer. Don’t call PETA. Wendy Jo doesn’t tend psychotic goats…she’s the lunatic. Besides being certifiable, she has an accent comparable to that of Boston Rob. Every time she said “Suh-Vive-Uh” I cringed.

Getting back to La Flor, we have a couple of aspiring male chauvinists in Matt and Shannon. Midway through the episode they were discussing whom they think could win it all. They decided that it really didn’t matter as long as it wasn’t another woman. Nice.

Then there is Jimmy Johnson. Yes, that Jimmy Johnson; the former NFL coach of Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins and current sportscaster on FOX TV's NFL Sunday pregame show. At first it was kind of cool seeing him on Survivor. Then they kept ramming him down our throats. Enough already!

I have no doubt that several characters will emerge in the very near future. Like Kelly the amputee or Naonka the angry black woman. Plus there is no shortage of eye candy this season.

This picture is evidence of that.

Before I reveal who got ousted I want to let you know who I would like to see stick around for a while. From Espada I like Yve, Marty and Tyrone. Brenda from La Flor is another that I am hoping makes it deep into season 21. She is the young lady wearing the orange top in the picture.

So, who did Probst say, “the tribe has spoken” to? Screwball goat farmer Wendy Jo is who. The tribe definitely did speak, but so did Wendy Jo. A lot. The woman would not shut up at Tribal Council! While casting his vote, Tyrone said it best, “Wendy Jo, ya gotta go!”

Don’t worry. Even without Wendy Jo, there is still no shortage of characters. Until next time…from the booth.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Happy Anniversary Alfie and Elsie

Today a very special dinner took place around noontime in England. The dinner was to honor Alfie and Elsie Taylor’s Wedding Anniversary. Among those in attendance were their children; Sue, Hazel, Christine, Margaret, Beryl, Carol, Debbie, Barry, David, Don and Keith. That’s right – eleven children! That alone should indicate that this was no ordinary anniversary celebration. This gathering marked the 60th Anniversary of this charming couple.

Because Great Britain is six hours ahead of us, the historic event had already taken place when I went on facebook at 7:00 this morning. However it didn’t take long to be reminded of the event.

Granddaughter Louise wrote “Celebrating my Nan and Granddads 60th wedding anniversary today with a surprise meal. Can't wait to see the look on their faces when a quiet meal for 4 turns into the usual Taylor madness! xxx”

To which daughter Margaret replied “Housework done, garden done, showered, hair washed. Already for Mum and Dads 60th anniversary surprise meal, and yes Louise they will be shocked when a quiet meal for 4 turns into a Taylor outing ha ha…”

Another daughter, Sue chimed in with “Looking forward to seeing Mum and Dad for their surprise 60th Anniversary lunch and to seeing ALL my sisters and brothers. Roll call in the restaurant before Mum and Dad arrive !”

Here is a picture of the guests of honor.

As Husband and Wife, after 60 years
you still say "I love you" in many different ways.

May your lovely family remind you,

you share a special happiness life gives to very few.

It was evident by these facebook remarks that the event was a success:

Louise said “Safe to say Nan and Granddad were very well surprised; wasn't a dry eye in the room! Happy 60th anniversary Nan and Granddad!"

Daughter Beryl added “They cried, so shocked.”

Brother David commented ”7 daughters and 4 sons all together for the first time in 9 years.”

Saying “May God bless you” would seem redundant, because it is obvious that Alfie and Elsie Taylor already have been; with eleven loving children and many adoring grandchildren. And those children and grandchildren have been blessed with two incredible parents and grandparents. Happy Anniversary Alfie and Elsie Taylor.

Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Only Seven Days!

The award-winning reality show, Survivor is making a move to Wednesday nights and premiers one week from tonight. That’s right, in only seven days Survivor is back! In less than 168 hours from when I posted this blog it will be a battle of the ages as Survivor heads into its 21st season. Taking place on the shores of Nicaragua, it will pit ten castaways age 30 and younger versus ten players 40 and older. The Young Tribe is called La Flor Tribe and the Old tribe is called Espada Tribe.

Here is a quick rundown of the competitors.

The young tribe will wear yellow buffs. THE LA FLOR TRIBE:

Alina Wilson – 23 – Los Angeles, CA – Swimsuit Model. Reason for being on Survivor: “I want to prove I’m not just a pretty face.” The early skinny: “Very strong worker and competitive”

Ben Henry – 24 – Los Angeles, CA – Club promoter, Starlet chaser, previously dated Holly Montag. The early skinny: “Likes to compete, great around camp”

Brenda Lowe – 27 – Miami, FL – Ex-cheerleader, Paddle boarder. Brenda won local and national beauty pageants. She was a Miami Dolphins Cheerleader for two years. The early skinny: “Strong worker and competitor”

Chase Rice – 24 – Nashville, TN Occupation: Hendrick Motorsports, Musician, and former UNC linebacker. The early skinny: “Strong competitor, soft and quiet”

Judson "Jud" Birza – 21 – Santa Monica, CA – Model/Actor. Referred to as 'Fabio' after the first challenge. The early skinny: “Not very strong but hilarious at camp”

Kelly Bruno – 26 – Durham, NC – Medical Student. She had her leg amputated at 6 months old due to a birth defect. Is a world champion Triathlon and Ironman athlete. The early skinny: “Strong worker and competitor and very smart”

Kelly Shinn – 22 – Honolulu, HI – College Student. She looks at winning homecoming queen as one of her greatest accomplishments. The early skinny: “Lazy, wants to quit, useless at camp”

Matt Lenahan – 30 – New York, NY – Luxury real estate sales, marathoner. Nickname: 'Sash O' Frash'. The early skinny: “Weak, useless at camp”

Na Onka Mixon – 27 – Los Angeles, CA – Personal Trainer, Gym Teacher, NAIA Track and Field Triple Jumper. The early skinny: “Lazy at camp but likes to compete”

Shannon Elkins – 30 – Lafayette, LA – Sales Rep for a Mosquito Max pest control company. His pet peeve is dumb people. Married with 3 kids. The early skinny: “Strong competitor, comical, straight forward”

The old tribe will sport blue buffs. THE ESPADA TRIBE:

Dan Lembo – 63 – Brooklyn, NY – Man about town. Commercial Real Estate Sales. Spends his days drinking martinis and hanging out. The early skinny: “Weak competitor but loves Playboy bunnies!”

Holly Hoffman – 44 – Eureka, South Dakota – Rancher/pageant director. Married to a state legislator. The early skinny: “Good competitor, weak minded, loose cannon - tick, tick, tick”

Jane Bright – 56 – Jackson Springs, NC – Dog breeder. Her pet peeve is lazy people. The early skinny: “Great competitor and worker”

Dr. Jill Behm – 43 – Erie, PA – ER physician, Master cyclist. Went to Kent State University on a Track and Field scholarship and was a 4 year varsity letterman. The early skinny: “Great competitor and strongest female”

Jimmy Johnson – 67 – Islamorada, FL – Former NFL Coach of Dallas Cowboys; Current Sportscaster on FOX TV's NFL Sunday Pregame Show. The early skinny: “Unexpected fisherman, nice guy”

“Jimmy T” Tarantino – 48 – Gloucester, MA – Seafood inspector for NOAA, previous Gloucester fisherman. The early skinny: “Too competitive for older tribe”

Marty Piombo – 48 – Mill Valley, CA – High-tech executive. Speaks fluent Spanish; Attended Pepperdine University and Swarthmore College. The early skinny: “Good competitor, good at camp, loves to dig”

Tyrone Davis – 43 – Los Angeles, CA – L.A. Fire captain, completed the Malibu Triathlon. The early skinny: “Strong competitor, socially weak”

Wendy Jo Kohlhoff – 48 – Billings, Montana – Former Army RN, current goat farmer. Enjoys singing and tap dancing. The early skinny: “Still getting the hang of planet Earth”

Yve Rojas – 41 – Chicago, IL/Kansas City, MO – Actress. Movie credits include: “Last Will”, “Hope” and “Change of Life”. The early skinny: “Dynamite comes in small packages!”

The age divide is not the only twist viewers can expect this season. Before the tribes even reach their camps, host Jeff Probst introduces the Medallion of Power, which if played at an immunity competition gives one tribe a distinct advantage that varies depending on the challenge.

"The Medallion of Power gives you a dilemma and a choice in every challenge," says Probst, who hopes the decision of whether or not to use the medallion will cause discourse in the tribe. "Somebody will be right and somebody will be wrong, but once you decide to play it, then the other tribe gets it and can play it in the next challenge."

This is going to be some good stuff. The only real disappointment will be the absence of Russell Hantz. It will be the first time in three seasons that “The Hall-of-Famer” won’t be competing for $1,000,000 and the title of Sole Survivor. Oh well, I can still hardly wait.

Until next time…from the booth.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

My First Labor Day…Again

Yesterday my dear friend Bev asked me what Labor Day was. I remembered explaining it to her and my other international readers last year in a blog I did. I told her that Labor Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September. Its purpose is to honor the nation's working people. Most Americans consider Labor Day the end of the summer, for many students it marks the opening of the school year. For me it brings back memories of my first Labor Day.

After reading that, I have decided to repost the rest of the blog. I hope you enjoy it.

My first Labor Day was June 9, 1975, four short days after I graduated from Tremper High School. This was my first grown-up job. Oh, I had worked at Howard Johnson’s and Burger King while I was in school, but those were high school jobs.

I had a job as a laborer at the infamous Koos Inc. fertilizer/ice melter plant. This was a bona fide, real-life job where I went to work each morning five days a week and received a paycheck for $91.18 each and every Friday afternoon.

The amount of $91.18 was after taxes were taken out. My gross pay was $120.00 for forty hours. Insert your own joke here.

Hey, I said it was a real-life job, I didn’t say it paid a lot. For my $3.00 an hour I got to lift 40-pound bags of fertilizer in a hot, sloppy plant with slippery mud covered floors. In the winter we were treated to 50-pound bags of ice melter in a building that had no heat whatsoever. Although we were freezing, at least the floors weren’t muddy. Now they were covered with a toxic dust that you inhaled all day long.

Did I mention that Koos Inc. featured no running water? Most guys simply stepped to the nearest open dock door to relieve themselves. Otherwise, if you wanted to use an actual restroom you had to maneuver through the entire plant, walk down a long flight of stairs and go across the yard to the “Jap Shack”.

The “Jap Shack” was nothing more than an old storage shed with a few beat-up lockers, a couple of picnic tables, a number of rats and a toilet with a sink. This venerable structure received its colorful name because it allegedly held Japanese war prisoners during World War II.

Don’t ask me, I just worked there.

And so did a multitude of fascinating characters. People like Virgil Tucker, Dead Man, Bone Head, Stretch Babic, Munk Ekern, Tyrone Walker and Ziggy Gutowski. Each one possessed unique characteristics. They obviously had to, with monikers like those. They all left a lasting impression on yours truly.

But none like the legendary Arno Schubert. I could easily write a story about Arno each day for a month. This ornery “old” German was well known in every drinking establishment between here and Paddock Lake. I say old because he was about 36 and I was only eighteen years old at the time.

The only problem about sharing stories about Arno is that it would take so long to clean up the language. With Arno, cursing was an art form. He made Dice Clay, Earl Weaver and other high-profile foul mouths look like choirboys. Let me give you an example.

Because of his propensity for filthy phraseology, he was often asked to “watch his mouth”. One classic moment is when a burnout named Lanny challenged Arno that he couldn’t go the whole day without cursing. Arno’s response? Cover your ears mother.

“F*ck you, you stupid motherf*ckin’ c*cks*cker.”

That was one of the things that I learned on my first Labor Day. How not to talk! Koos Inc. made me realize why Emil and Milly Vagnoni had been drilling that stuff into my head throughout my childhood. Now I was experiencing why in my first real-life job.

On that first Labor Day, I honestly considered making a run for it during first break. I often wonder how my life would have been different if I had. Do I regret not quitting Koos Inc. on my first Labor Day?

Probably, because I ended up working there for over sixteen years. Things would have definitely been different. Maybe better, perhaps not. Who knows? One thing that I am sure of, staying at Koos Inc. on my first Labor Day has provided me with a mountain of material for future columns. Until next time…from the booth