Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Only Two Weeks To Go

The twenty-third installment of the Emmy Award-winning reality series Survivor premieres September 14 (7:00 – 8:30 PM) on CBS Television. Sixteen new castaways will embark on the adventure of a lifetime as they are abandoned in the South Pacific, the island nation of Samoa to be specific. They will face relentless storms, sweltering heat and unforgiving waters. The Redemption Island feature returns along with two returning veteran players joining the fray.

The 16 new castaways set to compete on Survivor: South Pacific:

From left to right: Front row: John Cochran, Elyse Umemoto, Mikayla Wingle, Albert Destrade Back row: Dawn Meehan, Keith Tollefson, Semhar Tadesse, Mark Caruso, Whitney Duncan, Jim Rice, Sophie Clarke, Edna Ma, Rick Nelson, Christine Shields Markoski, Stacey Powell and Brandon Hantz.

Survivor: South Pacific marks the sixth straight season that From The Booth will provide scintillating summaries after each episode. Always looking to improve, a twist has been added. To further enhance these witty reviews, Fellow Survivor Geeks Jamie Cairo and Mary Beth Lindqvist have graciously agreed to occasionally provide their acumen. Their inaugural contributions are featured in this blog.

Here are brief bios and our 4-word evaluations for each of the new castaways and the two returnees.

The SAVAII Tribe

Name: Dawn Meehan (41) South Jordan, Utah
Occupation: English Professor at Brigham Young University
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: She will go far.
Jamie’s Prognosis: Older female, look out.
From The Booth’s Take: Pain in the ass.

Name: Elyse Umemoto (27) Las Vegas, Nevada
Occupation: Dance Team Manager­
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: Nothing but eye candy.
Jamie’s Prognosis: Paul will love me.
From The Booth’s Take: Temperamental beauty queen type.

Name: Jim Rice (35) Denver, Colorado
Occupation: Medical Marijuana Dispenser.
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: Hmm, maybe. We'll see…
Jamie’s Prognosis: Happy high smart guy.
From The Booth’s Take: Wow dude, let’s party!

Name: John Cochran (24) Washington, D.C.
Occupation: Harvard Law Student
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: Quiet, deadly, watch out.
Jamie’s Prognosis: Embrace your inner geek.
From The Booth’s Take: Where’s the pocket protector?

Name: Keith Tollefson (26) Edina, Minnesota
Occupation: Water Treatment Tech
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: I like this guy!
Jamie’s Prognosis: He loves his mother!!
From The Booth’s Take: Dreamy, charming, good-looking heartthrob.

Name: Mark Caruso (48) Forest Hills, New York­
Occupation: Retired NYPD Detective
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: Likable. Will go far.
Jamie’s Prognosis: Target on my back.
From The Booth’s Take: Goody two-shoes, Tom wannabe.

Name: Semhar Tadesse (24) Los Angeles, California
Occupation: Spoken Word Artist
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: DIVA! DIVA! DIVA! DIVA!
Jamie’s Prognosis: Oprah? Oprah? Oprah? Oprah?
From The Booth’s Take: The first one eliminated.

Name: Whitney Duncan (27)­ Nashville, Tennessee­
Occupation: Country Music Singer­­
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: Coattail rider, then out.
Jamie’s Prognosis: Blonds have more fun!
From The Booth’s Take: Could be a contender.

The UPOLU Tribe

Name: Albert Destrade (26) Plantation, Florida
Occupation: Baseball/Dating Coach­­­
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: Might be a contender.
Jamie’s Prognosis: Another Coach? No thanks!
From The Booth’s Take: Self-absorbed pretty boy.

Name: Brandon Hantz (19) Katy, Texas
Occupation: Oil Tanker Crewman
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: HANTZ! Says it all!!
Jamie’s Prognosis: Enough with the Hantz’s…
From The Booth’s Take: Big shoes to fill.

Name: Christine Shields Markoski (39) Merrick, New York
Occupation: Teacher
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: My prediction? Out early.
Jamie’s Prognosis: First person voted off!
From The Booth’s Take: Might be an underdog.

Name (Age): Edna Ma (35) Los Angeles, California ­
Occupation: Anesthesiologist
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: May be too weak.
Jamie’s Prognosis: Yuppie. Doctor. Annoying. Oprah?
From The Booth’s Take: Too smart for game.

Name: Mikayla Wingle (22) Tampa, Florida­­
Occupation: Lingerie Football Player
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: She's gone. Right away.
Jamie’s Prognosis: Tits and ass vote.
From The Booth’s Take: Strictly eye candy. Yum.

Name: Rick Nelson (51) Aurora, Utah
Occupation: Rancher
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: People will trust him.
Jamie’s Prognosis: Shave your porn ‘stache!
From The Booth’s Take: Rugged good old boy.

Name: Stacey Powell (44) Grand Prairie, Texas
Occupation: Mortician
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: Bring on the drama!
Jamie’s Prognosis: She likes outdoors grilling…
From The Booth’s Take: You’re really a mortician?

Name: Sophie Clarke (22) Willsboro, New York
Occupation: Medical Student
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: She could be great!
Jamie’s Prognosis: Looks beeeotchy to me.
From The Booth’s Take: Might hang around awhile.

Returning Survivors

Name: Benjamin "Coach" Wade (39) Susanville, California
Occupation: Symphony Conductor, Soccer Coach, Pastor
Previous Seasons: “Survivor: Tocantins” and “Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains”
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: Oh. Please. Not. Again.
Jamie’s Prognosis: I love crazy “Zen”.
From The Booth’s Take: Act is getting old.

Name: Oscar “Ozzy” Lusth (30) Venice, California
Occupation: Non-profit Organization Founder
Previous Seasons: “Survivor: Cook Islands” and “Survivor: Micronesia”
Mary Beth’s 2Cents: Looks like a target.
Jamie’s Prognosis: Dark and hairy Fabio!!
From The Booth’s Take: Target on his back.

If you want more information, click on CBS.com for complete bios.

Who will have what it takes to outwit, outplay and outlast all the rest? Do you agree with me, Mary Beth and Jamie? Your opinions and input are welcome. If there is enough response, you could see your thoughts in a future blog.

Until next time…from the booth.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Please Keep Smiling

Dennis Shook
Friday afternoon I was saddened when I read on facebook that Dennis Shook had passed away earlier that morning. On Saturday the Kenosha News reported that the longtime journalist and cable television host was found slumped over in his car parked on the southside of the post office. Recently, Dennis had been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis and was told by doctors he could possibly live only five more years. Unfortunately, he left us after only three short months.

While this is certainly sobering news, the only way I remember Dennis is being cheerful, witty and upbeat. He was blessed with an amazingly positive outlook and was kind enough to share it with the people in his life. He was forever smiling. Dennis gave much more than he ever took.

Last August I was privileged to have Dennis ask me to be on his “Shakin’ Up Kenosha” show to discuss the book I had written. After a bit of persistence from Dennis and much consternation on my part, I agreed to do it.

At first I was a flattered, but then I started having some concerns. After all, I am a man of size and my face isn’t exactly suited for TV. The week leading up to the taping I became more and more nervous. What had I gotten myself into?

The Thursday before, I called Dennis and explained my concerns, telling him that I wasn’t feeling too well. He quickly put my fears to rest, assuring me that he would see to it that I was comfortable and shouldn’t worry. Reluctantly, I agreed.

Saturday came and we taped the 30-minute show. I arrived at 2:05 and was getting back into my truck by 3:00. It was a lot of fun and despite my earlier trepidation I really enjoyed myself.

We discussed my book and Kenosha softball in general. I was allowed to make several shameless plugs for my book as we discussed the good old days. It seemed like we were just getting started when the words, “that’s a wrap” were coming from the production booth.

Dennis had done exactly as he had promised. He put me at ease with that cheerful attitude of his. He had a smile on his face from the moment he greeted me at the door of the studio until he shook my hand and wished me good-bye.

Later I found out that the reason we had to tape “Shakin’ Up Kenosha” when we did was because Dennis was having some pretty serious surgery in just a few weeks. Even knowing what he was about to deal with, it never stopped him from smiling that infectious smile of his. It was as if his own problems were of no concern.

I will never forget that smile.

In the Kenosha News article, County Executive Jim Kreuser had this to say about Dennis, “He will definitely be missed by the Kenosha community. He touched a lot of corners of the community.”

Today, those people whose lives were touched by Dennis feel great sorrow, especially his wife, Laura and their children, Julia and Dennis Jr. This sadness is natural and to be expected. But while we mourn the passing of this wonderful man, please keep smiling. That’s what Dennis would do.

Dear God, please remember our brother Dennis; may you bring him and all the departed into the light of your presence.

Until next time…from the booth.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Beast Mode Brewer Style

As I write this, the Milwaukee Brewers are on top of the National League Central division, leading the St. Louis Cardinals by ten games. The Brew Crew’s record for the season is currently 78 wins and 54 losses, a whopping 24 games over .500. They have won 24 of their last 29 games and their magic number is at 22. That means any combination of Brewer wins and Cardinal losses equaling 22, the Crew will clinch the division title. 

The Brewers are in Beast Mode!

With their success, the team is receiving some much-deserved recognition. Ryan Braun, Nyjer Morgan and Prince Fielder are on the cover of the August 29 edition of Sports Illustrated that hit the news stands this past Tuesday. They are pictured celebrating Mark Kotsay’s walk-off hit against the Dodgers on August 16.

Speaking of celebrations, you might have noticed Prince, Morgan, Corey Hart and other Brewers motioning wildly after they reach base. This the Crew’s new celebration. After a big hit, players turn to the dugout with their arms spread out like they’re scaring someone.

Morgan refers to it as “Beast Mode”. Prince offers a little more insight, explaining, “That’s my kids’ favorite movie. The whole team does it now. It’s something that I saw my kids do, and I thought it was funny, so I thought I might as well do it, too.”

Prince Fielder in “Beast Mode
The players say that “Beast Mode” is not meant to show up the opposition and insist they are just having fun. If you remember, the Texas Rangers celebrated last year with the “Claw” and “Antlers” gestures all the way to the World Series.

Not everyone is a fan of “Beast Mode”. Some old school baseball types see this as “disrespecting the game”. Curmudgeons like Cardinal manager, Tony La Russa for instance. But then again, La Russa and the rest of his St. Louis slimeballs act as if they invented baseball.

Morgan, aka Tony Plush, indicates that this just isn’t true. He was quoted as saying, ““We don’t want to show up anybody and we don’t to seem like we’re out there being cocky and don’t respect someone else’s game, or the game in general. If it comes down to that, guys are going to have to turn things down. I think it’s cool.”

Right fielder and fellow “Beast”, Hart, noted that the Brewers personality is different than everybody else’s and that it’s good if other teams (see Cardinals) don’t like it.

I read that Brewer manager Ron Roenicke said, “Today’s game is different. If you want to be ‘old school’, you’re not going to do real well in this game today unless you’ve been around as long as Tony La Russa or Bobby Cox.”

Well, Mr. Cox retired after last season. Maybe it’s time for La Russa to either change or do the same. I much prefer the Brewers’ “Beast Mode” to the Cardinals’ constant “Prick Mode”.

Hey La Russa, wake up, the light has changed. Again.

Go Crew, keep it in “Beast Mode”.

Until next time…from the booth.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rhonda’s Revenge

This is the final chapter of the Burger King Trilogy. If you have not read the first two installments, “Rhonda’s Panties” and “It’s The Real Thing”, I would recommend doing so before reading this one. It will help you know why Rhonda is getting revenge. I suppose you can do the whole Star Wars thing and enjoy the trio of blogs in whatever order you like. 

Whichever manner you choose, the trilogy concludes with Rhonda’s Revenge.

As with all jobs, my time working at Burger King was marked with numerous changes. Not only did I see a multitude of people come and go; even the management team changed. When Mike was rather unceremoniously “relieved” of his assistant manager job, Rhonda swooped in and gobbled it up.

That’s right, my nemesis Rhonda became assistant manager and was an even bigger thorn in my side. The increase in her authority and power didn’t bode well for those of us that had dared to challenge her in the past. From that point on, Rhonda was the bane of my existence.

Things were never quite the same after she became the assistant manager. It didn’t take long for the wrath of Rhonda to wreak havoc on my idyllic Burger King world.

Her reign of terror was legendary. Under her jurisdiction, nobody did their job well enough to meet her stringent standards. What was good enough in the past, no longer was. There was a new sheriff in town and her name was Rhonda.

If you wanted to work at Burger King you did things her way. Your days were numbered if you didn’t march in lockstep with her new regime or if you were foolish enough to question her supremacy.

Some employees embraced Rhonda’s new “system” and kowtowed to the oppressive dictator. They did whatever she said, no matter how senseless or pointless it was. The faithfulness of this throng of mindless minions greatly delighted her.

Then there was the other group who had a problem accepting Rhonda’s demented style of management and often challenged her demands. Life at the home of the Whopper wasn’t particularly pleasant for those who chose that path.

If you read “Rhonda’s Panties”, you can probably figure out which faction I belonged to. It wasn’t long after Rhonda was promoted to assistant manager when that little incident would come back to haunt me.

Big time.

It wasn’t unusual for us to hang out at Burger King when we weren’t working, especially if Rhonda wasn’t there. It was fun to socialize with co-workers, many of which had become friends. We would sit around talking while enjoying a soft drink.

That’s what I had planned to do on a late Sunday afternoon. Having closed the night before, I decided to stop in, get a Coke and see who was working. That was the beginning of the end.

When I walked up to the cash register, Janet looked at me uncomfortably and said, “You better go look at the bulletin board, Paul.”  Noting the uneasiness in her demeanor, I quickly made my way to the backroom to see what she was talking about.

The bullet board, located next to the time clock in the backroom had the usual things posted on it. You know, things like the work schedule, company policies and any upcoming announcements. That was usually all it ever had on it.

But on that fateful day there was one more item pinned to the bulletin board. It was a note written by Rhonda on the back of a page from an order pad. Although it was addressed to me, it did not start out with “Dear Paul”.

No, the purpose of the note was to blast me for the job that Marty and me had done closing the night before. And she wanted everyone that worked at Burger King to see it.

The note was spiteful and malicious, pointing out any small detail that we had overlooked the previous evening when cleaning up. While she was mean and vindictive in the critique of the job I had done, she actually took it fairly easy on Marty.

Thinking back, that shouldn’t have surprised me. You see, Marty was an ass-kisser, one of Rhonda’s faithful minions. Plus, he had never made the grievous error of mentioning her flowered panties in front of everyone.

After carefully reading her nasty public evaluation of my performance, I decided that it was in my best interest to respond in kind. Borrowing a pen from Janet, I proceeded to write a rebuttal to her review.

My reply was factual while being concise. It might have been a bit sarcastic. Okay, it oozed sarcasm, bordering on being sardonic. But I was careful to avoid being contemptuous. After all, she was the assistant manager.

Satisfied with what I had written, I proudly signed and pinned my note right next to Rhonda’s on the bulletin board. At age 17, I figured what was good for the goose was good for the gander. With a content look on my face, I returned the pen to Janet and left. Take that Rhonda!

Well, she took it alright. The next day during lunch at school, Hayes, a fellow Burger King employee, found me and related some rather alarming news. During his free period he had gone over to Burger King to check the new work schedule. He found his hours for the upcoming week, what he didn’t find were mine.

Evidently, Rhonda didn’t appreciate my response to her public assessment of the job I did on Saturday. In fact, it enraged her enough for her to cross my name completely off of the schedule. I guess she didn’t want me making Whoppers anymore.

After school, I drove over to Burger King to see what was going on. Upon arriving, I discovered that Rhonda had indeed put a big blue line through my name on the schedule. She had fired me.

As I turned from the schedule, there stood Rhonda, the antithesis of all that is good and fair, smiling her diabolical grin. I brushed by her as I went to talk to George in the manager’s office.

George was head manager and I wanted to get his take on the situation. I knocked on his door and he called out weakly, “Come in, Paul.” He was obviously expecting me. When I entered, he was sitting at his desk with his head in his hands. He was distraught and looked more disheveled than usual.

“Paul, why did you have to write that note?” was the first thing out of the troubled manager’s mouth. When I replied that she shouldn’t have posted her note on the bulletin board, he agreed, saying, “I know, I know.” But he was wasn’t happy.

He explained that he was in a tough predicament. While what Rhonda did was unprofessional, she was the assistant manager and he couldn’t undermine her authority. On the other hand, he valued me as an employee and didn’t want to lose me.

While this was going on, a small group had gathered outside of the office. The walls were paper-thin and didn’t quite reach the ceiling. The people out there had a good idea what was happening. I am sure Rhonda filled them in on anything they may have missed.

Finally, George cleared his throat and told me he had a solution. If I would apologize to Rhonda, everything would be forgotten and I wouldn’t lose my job. It would be like none of this had ever happened.

After pausing ever so briefly, I said to George, “You mean all I have to do is apologize to Rhonda and I keep my job?” For the first time that afternoon, George smiled, nodding his head and saying yes.

That smile left his face just as fast as it had appeared when I grabbed his hand, firmly shook it and told him, “Thanks for everything, George, it was nice working for you.” His face went colorless as he slumped back into his chair.

Greeting me as I left the office was a smirking Rhonda and her witless cohorts. They were waiting for me to apology, like a puppy with his tail between his legs. I spoiled their feel-good moment when I lied and said, “It was nice working with you, Rhonda.” As their jaws dropped in unison, I left the backroom at Burger King for the final time.

The Burger King Trilogy is now complete. I have many fond memories of that place. However, there might have been more it wasn’t for Rhonda and her damn panties.

Until next time…from the booth.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

It’s The Real Thing

In 1952, the official slogan for Coca-Cola was “What you want is a Coke.” In 1982, the catch phrase was “Coke is it!” Today’s slogan for the world’s most popular soft drink is “Life begins here.” These are only a few of the sayings used by Coca-Cola since it was developed in 1886. However, the 1969 mantra, “It’s the real thing”, best described this refreshing beverage in an amusing Burger King incident that took place in 1974.

The majority of the work force at Burger King was made up of high school students wanting to make some money. And like most kids that age, they loved Coca-Cola; they just weren’t too keen on spending their hard-earned cash on it.

Fortunately, Burger King had a policy that allowed employees to drink for free while they were working. There were only two stipulations - you couldn’t be on the frontline and you had to use your personal plastic cup.

The reason for using a personal cup was that the paper Burger King cups actually cost more than the Coke itself. Swear to God. Not drinking on the frontline was just common sense.

Pretty sweet deal, huh? Needless to say we all took advantage of the King’s generosity. For some strange reason, it seemed like the young females seemed to partake of this benefit far more often than their male counterparts.

This fact was especially evident on a warm summer evening in 1974. I saw that every time I went into the back there were two or three girls enjoying a cold beverage.

When I mentioned this to our manager Tony, he said he had noticed the same thing. Suddenly there was a light bulb over my head. I asked Tony if he wanted to have some fun. He nodded vigorously as a wicked grin spread over his face.

I told him we would need a couple of bolts that were the same size. One had to be old and rusty, the other shiny and new. He went to look through the toolbox.

Moments later he returned from his office with the two bolts. I laid the rusty one on the shelf over the sink and told him to put the shiny one in his pocket and follow my lead.

Sure enough, as we walked over to the walk-in cooler there was Janet and Sherry taking a Coke break. Innocently, I said, “Jeez, you guys sure drink a lot of Coke.” Both ladies shrugged their shoulders and Janet said, “So what? It’s free.”

To which I replied, “Don’t you know what that stuff can do to your stomach?” Before they could say anything, Tony added, “Ya, the acid in Coke can take the rust off metal.”

By this time Debbie had joined the group and asked what was going on. Of course, she was gulping down a Coke. Sherry told her, “Paul and Tony are saying that Coke is bad for us and it can eat rust off of metal.” Debbie rolled her eyes and blurted out, “Ya, right!”

I quickly replied, “Oh, you don’t believe us? Go over by the sink and see if you can find any rusty nails or bolts.” Janet scampered over to the sink and quickly returned with the rusty old bolt that we had planted there.

Tony then told Debbie to go fill a small courtesy cup with Coca-Cola and bring it back to him. When she returned, he dropped the dirty old bolt into the small paper cup. He then carefully placed it on the table near the time clock.

Turning to the trio of skeptic females, he said, “Okay, it will take awhile to eat off all of that rust, let’s check back in an hour.” With that he told us all to get back to work.

The next sixty minutes seemed to last an eternity. By now the entire crew had heard about the “experiment”. Everyone was anxious to see if Coke would really eat the rust off of that old bolt.

It became increasingly difficult for Tony and I to keep a straight face but we knew we had to if our diabolical scheme was to be a success. Somehow we did it.

Just before the hour was up, Tony quietly went into the back and replaced the rusty bolt with the shiny new one. Now all we had to do was wait.

Tony had just returned to the front when Janet blurted out, “I can’t take it anymore! I have to know!” Glancing at his watch, Tony said that since it wasn’t very busy, they could go look.

Lead by Janet, Sherry and Debbie, the crew bolted into the back while Tony and I watched for customers. Luckily there were none because the loud shriek that came from the backroom would have scared them right out of the restaurant. Our plan had obviously worked.

The shaken crew returned to the front with a trembling Debbie holding the shiny bolt for us to see. Tony and I were fighting back laughter when Janet announced, “You guys were right. I’m never drinking Coke again!”

When the others began nodding in agreement, I had to get out of there and asked Tony if I could take a break. He told me to go ahead.

A few minutes later Tony joined me in the dining room. Making sure we were alone, we both busted out laughing. Wiping a tear from my eye, I asked him if we should tell them the truth. He said we had better. We agreed to come clean and tell them the truth after my break.

As you might have already guessed, our duped co-workers chastised the two of us most vehemently. We were called extremely bad names. Names that I don’t care to repeat at this time. But it was well worth it. For one hour, on a warm summer evening in 1974 at Burger King, Coke was the real thing.

The final chapter of the Burger King Trilogy is a real doozy. You don’t want to miss it. Until next time…from the booth.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rhonda’s Panties

My junior year in high school was memorable for several reasons. First and foremost, I got my driver’s license, followed closely by discovering the wonderful world of alcohol. (Kids, please keep in mind that combination is never good.) The next significant happening was being hired at the Burger King on 75th street across from the Ace Hardware store. 

Although it was 38 years ago it still brings back many memories, some good and others not so good. One of those recollections was of Rhonda’s panties.

Even though Burger King was your basic fast-food restaurant, it still had some corporate aspects. Like the management team. When I first started there, the people calling the shots were the manager, George, his assistant, Mike and swing managers, Tony and Rhonda.

I’m not quite sure why they were called swing managers. Maybe Rhonda’s panties had something to do with it.

George was a high-energy type, running around the restaurant worrying about everything. Passionate about his job, he lived and breathed Burger King to the point of being neurotic. George often confided in me. I liked George.

Mike was just the opposite of George and nothing seemed to rattle him. He cared about his job; it just wasn’t the most important thing in his life. It took a while to get to know Mike, but once you did he was very cool and had a dry sense of humor. I liked Mike.

Tony was one year older than me, a senior at Tremper. The most important thing to him about his job was acting suave while flirting with the female employees. He also loved to sit in the manager’s office and make sure the paper money didn’t have any corners that were folded over. Despite this peculiar idiosyncrasy, I liked Tony.

Then there was Rhonda. She was easily the bossiest of the management team. Maybe it was because she was the only female manager and was trying to prove a point. All I know is that many people didn’t look forward to being assigned to working on Rhonda’s shift. I can’t say I liked Rhonda, but I did like the challenge of working with her.

Back in 1973 the uniforms at Burger King consisted of a bright orange shirt with an even brighter yellow panel in the front. Girls had matching orange pants and guys were required to wear black trousers. Add to the equation that everything was double-knit polyester and I think you get the picture. It was classic.

Being somewhat corpulent, the uniform tops were usually a bit snug for me, so I always made sure to wear an undershirt. This prevented any nasty chafing.

One Saturday night I was assigned to work from 4 to 8 with Rhonda. On that particular evening, my undergarment of choice was a teal t-shirt with the number 39 printed on the front and back. That shirt proved to be the springboard for quite an interesting series of events.

Rhonda was in rare form that night, nitpicking at everyone’s performance, trying to find someone doing anything the least bit wrong. Despite her tenacious efforts, she came up empty; everyone was doing his or her job properly.

She was frustrated and just about ready to give up when she spotted me filling drinks. A devilish smile came across her face as she called out my name.

Loud enough for the whole restaurant to hear, she bellowed, “Hey Paul, I can see that 39 through your uniform top! Don’t you know better than that?” She then admonished me, letting me know that in no uncertain terms was I never to wear anything under my uniform that would show through.

She turned away with a huge grin on her face, proud that she had successfully emasculated me in front of the rest of the crew and several customers. Her night was now a triumph.

Or was it?

While she still had her back to me, I said, as humbly as possible, “You are right, I shouldn’t have worn this shirt and I will never do it again. I apologize.”

Then it happened.

I quickly added, rather boisterously, “Oh, by the way, Rhonda, you better not wear those panties anymore. Those flowers are real cute, but everyone can see them.”

It was true; you could see a lovely pattern of bright whimsical flowers through the orange uniform material that was stretched across her ample derrière.

Just like that Rhonda’s moment of glory was spoiled. Her jaw dropped as her face turned a lovely shade of red as the rest of the crew burst into laughter. Embarrassed, she had no choice but to feign a giggle and tell us all to get back to work.

That wouldn’t be the last of the confrontations between the feisty Rhonda and me. There were several more, to be sure. Nevertheless, to this day, I can’t get the memory of Rhonda’s panties out of my mind. I’m just not sure if it’s a good or a not so good memory.

Come back soon for chapter two of the Burger King Trilogy. Until then…from the booth.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Music, Music, Music!!!

Who doesn’t like music? Last night I received my copy of the CD, Kenosha Comes Alive. This is a compilation put together by local musicians who are dedicated to seeing that the Kenosha Unified School District Music Programs stay in tact. All proceeds from the sale of this CD will go toward that purpose. This is a wonderful project and I encourage you to help out by purchasing a CD. Including shipping, it cost me less than $14.00. If you would like to help this worthy cause, click on Kenosha Comes Alive to be linked to Amazon.

While burning the CD onto my iTunes, I noticed that I now have over 960 songs providing me with almost 65 hours of musical bliss. Being a lover of lists, I decided to choose my favorite song from 76 different artists.

Full Disclosure: Selecting a song for Dropkick Murphys, Queen and R.E.M. was very difficult. The Who was next to impossible.

Aerosmith – No More No More
Alice Cooper – Halo Of Flies
America - Lonely People
Aretha Franklin – Think
The Association - Cherish
The Beatles – Getting Better
Black Sabbath - Electric Funeral
Blondie - Dreaming
Blood, Sweat and Tears – You Made Me So Very Happy
Blue Öyster Cult - Debbie Denise
Bob Dylan – Tangled Up In Blues
The BoDeans – You Don’t Get Much
The Boomtown Rats – Someone’s Looking At You
The Byrds – My Back Pages
Carole King - You’ve Got A Friend
The Cars – Moving In Stereo
Cat Stevens – Father And Son
Cheap Trick – Elo Kiddies
Chicago – Questions 67 And 68
The Clash – Should I Stay Or Should I Go
Cold Play – The Scientist
Collective Soul – Reach
Concrete Blonde – Tomorrow, Wendy
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – Teach Your Children
The Cure – Friday I’m In Love
Dan Fogelberg – Leader Of The Pack
David Bowie – Five Years
Del Amitri – Be My Downfall
Depeche Mode – Enjoy The Silence
The Doors – Touch Me
Dropkick Murphys – Fields Of Athenry
The Eagles – The Last Resort
Electric Light Orchestra – Ma-Ma-Ma- Belle
Elton John – Your Song
Fleetwood Mac - Landslide
The Four Tops – Reach Out I’ll Be There
Genesis – Carpet Crawlers
The Hollies – He Ain’t Heavy… He’s My Brother
INXS – Beautiful Girl
Jethro Tull – Locomotive Breath
John Lennon – Imagine
Judy Collins – Both Sides Now
The Killers – Human
The Kinks – Celluloid Heroes
KISS – Black Diamond
Led Zeppelin – Living Loving Maid
Mat Kearney – Closer To Love
Matthew Sweet – Divine Intervention
Meat Loaf – You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth
Michelle Shocked – Come A Long Way
The Moody Blues – Ride My See-Saw
Neil Diamond – Holly Holy
Neil Young – Old Man
Pete Townshend – And I Moved
Peter Gabriel – Don’t Give Up
The Psychedelic Furs – Heartbreak Beat
Queen – ‘39
R.E.M. – Perfect Circle
The Rascals – How Can I Be Sure
Rod Stewart – Reason To Believe
The Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter
Simon and Garfunkel – I Am A Rock
Sly And The Family Stone – Everyday People
The Smithereens – Yesterday Girl
Soul Asylum – Black Gold
Stevie Winwood – The Finer Things
Talking Heads – Psycho Killer
Ted Nugent - Stranglehold
Thin Lizzy - Cowboy Song
Tom Petty – Running Down A Dream
Tom Waits – I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You
U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday
Uriah Heep - Paradise
Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl
The Who – The Song Is Over
World Party – Take It Up

I look forward to hearing your comments and would be interested in what some of your favorites are. Before you go, please click on Kenosha Comes Alive and order a CD, it’s a wonderful cause!

Until next time…from the booth.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Crazy Day

It’s been established that Koos Inc. was the first job that I had after graduating from high school. However, it wasn’t the first place that I worked. While in high school, I worked at the Howard Johnson’s restaurant out on I-94 as a busboy and dishwasher. After that I enjoyed a stellar career at the Burger King across from Ace Hardware. Prior to those jobs I cut lawns and shoveled snow, typical jobs a junior high kid did to earn a few extra bucks. However, there was one job that I had in my youth that was anything but typical. 

It only lasted one day, but it was a crazy day.

The job took place during summer break when I was about 14 years old. Tired of working around the house for our folks, my cousin John Dean, my brother Mike and I decided that if we were going to work we were going to get paid for it.

Being enterprising lads, we found a program through Manpower designed to obtain summer work for young people. The three of marched into the KYF to signup, determined to find a job. We didn’t care what the job was; we just wanted to get paid.

After filling out the necessary paperwork, we eagerly started digging through the listings of available jobs. It didn’t take us long before we discovered the ideal job. The carnival was coming to town for Crazy Days and it needed help setting up the rides. It was one full day and paid $1.50 an hour. This was perfect! Or so we thought…

Let me provide a quick explanation for those of you unfamiliar with Crazy Days.

Crazy Days was an event that took place each summer in downtown Kenosha. Local merchants set up tables outside of their shops to sell their goods at unbelievably low prices. Food vendors hawked tasty delights and the streets were closed off to make room for a bevy of amazing carnival rides.

It was a wonderful festival that would kick off on Friday night, lasting the entire weekend. In our adolescent minds, Thursday morning couldn’t get there fast enough. We were going to set up the rides and get paid for the honor. It was going to be great! Or so we thought…

When Thursday finally got there, our folks dropped us off on the corner of 55th Street and 6th Avenue across from Nehlsen’s Sporting Goods. The three of us were greeted by a small gathering of kids. We exchanged smiles, and then looked up at the blazing July sun. It was going to be a hot one.

Shortly after 10:00 o’clock, four rough looking characters with cigarettes dangling from their lips walked towards us. They were the carnies and were dressed in filthy, tattered work clothes. Wide-eyed, my cousin John Dean looked at my brother and me and muttered, “Oh shit.”

He was right. Oh shit.

There was no way that this trio of naive, fairly clean cut Catholic boys were prepared for what was about to transpire. Over the next ten hours we were exposed to not only, hard manual labor in extreme heat, but also to four of the stupidest, most vile, foul-mouthed barbarians that we would ever encounter during our young lives.

Here are a few highlights:

Lifting the massive, rusty base of the ride was not done with a fork truck or some sort of mechanical device. No, it was hoisted off of the back of a flatbed truck by the four grubby carnies and 6 or 7 young boys. I think that I experienced my first groin pull that day. Or maybe it was a hernia, I’m not quite sure.

Needing some nuts to secure the bolts being used, a carny ordered me to hand him a “couple of nuts”. Not wanting to incur the wrath of the unwashed cretin, I quickly handed him three nuts. He immediately called me stupid and said that a “couple” means two. A mere twenty seconds later he asked me for another nut.

Speaking of nuts and bolts, the proper size weren’t always available. When this happened, a nail was inserted into the hole and then bent over with a pliers. Honest. That is what was holding together many of the rides we rode at Crazy Days.

At one point, a pair of attractive women clad in skimpy tank tops and shorts waked by, one pushing a baby in a stroller. This caused one of the grimy carnies to blurt out, “Hey baby, I’ll give you another one!” Not to be outdone, one of his cohorts shouted, “Oh ya, I’ll give her twins!” To which the first carny replied, “Fuck you, go ahead!”

Stuff like this went on the entire day. But at sundown it was over and we were free to go home. Our “perfect” job was complete. All that was left was to find the carny boss and collect our pay.

After asking a few questions we were directed to a small, dilapidated trailer attached to the back of a pickup truck. The only problem was that the trailer had backed into a Volkswagen parked behind it and their bumpers were locked.

You guessed it, before we got paid, the carny boss had us climb up on the bumpers and jump up and down to unlock them. When that was accomplished, we were at long last paid. Granted we had to haggle with him about many hours we had worked and it was cash, but we had got paid. Finally.

Looking back, it was probably good that it was cash. We grabbed our pay, bought a slice of pizza and walked as quickly as our sore bodies could up to Sheridan Road to wait for our ride.

As I said earlier, it only lasted one day, but it was a crazy day. Until next time…from the booth.