Sunday, February 26, 2012

All-Star Break

The National Basketball Association’s All-Star game is being played this evening. Because I have absolutely no interest in the NBA, I decided to bring out a classic from the Koos Vault and honor a former hoop star from Kenosha, Wisconsin. You guessed it – the name of this local legend is none other than that crusty Kraut, Arno Schubert. 

Although this man never played in the NBA and technically was never an All-star, he certainly deserves to be acknowledged for his contributions to the game of basketball.

In order to pay homage to this phenom, I would like to share with you one of the many stories that have been written chronicling his greatness. It was originally posted January 10, 2010.

A Special Secret Weapon

On a cold Saturday afternoon in January of 1977, Kenosha Tap’s basketball team took to the court at Bullen Jr. High School. Led by player-coach Kurt Plaisted, the squad was warming up for their 1:00 pm City League tilt with the Jubilee Lounge. As fans began to fill the bleachers, Plaisted nervously watched the locker room door as he tossed in a long practice shot.

All of Kenosha Tap’s players were present and accounted for, except for the special secret weapon that Plaisted had been counting on. It was almost game time and he was beginning to become anxious.

Suddenly Plaisted’s anticipation disappeared.

With a thundering bang, the door from the locker room burst open and a loud cry of “Let’s kick some ass you sons-of-bitches” was heard throughout the large gymnasium. Dressed in a torn t-shirt and dirty sweatpants, Plaisted’s special secret weapon had arrived.

With a predominantly toothless grin, Arno Schubert clumsily dribbled a basketball as he took the court amid boisterous cheers, mixed with a few chuckles from the astonished crowd. A relieved Plaisted tossed a scarlet Kenosha Tap jersey to Arno and said, “Here, get this on and put out that cigarette.”

Arno tossed the butt to the hardwood floor and ground it out with his well-worn Chuck Taylor sneakers. As he attempted to tug the jersey over his large head, it was obviously a size too small, causing it to fit the hung-over German like O.J. Simpson’s glove.

With the game ready to begin, Plaisted gathered his team into a small huddle. “Okay guys, the starters are Cliff, Stan, Harry, Gino and Hall. The rest of you be ready!” No sooner had Plaisted stopped speaking, Arno blurted out, “What the (expletive deleted) Kurt! I ain’t starting?!?”

Plaisted smiled at his special secret weapon and said, “Not yet Arno, not yet.” Arno, cursing under his breath, sat down on the bench and shot a dirty look at Plaisted. If looks could have killed…

The referee tossed the ball into the air and the game between Kenosha Tap and Jubilee Lounge was under way. The contest was a typical City League basketball game and the score went back and forth. It was also a very physical game, with the players needing frequent rests.

Every time Plaisted would put in a substitute, Arno would jump up and beg to be put in the game. Each time, the response was the same, “Not yet Arno, not yet.” Arno would return to the bench and curse at his coach a bit louder.

At halftime, the game was tied and Plaisted told his crew to hang tough. He then, much to Arno’s chagrin, announced that the guys who started the game would start the second half as well. 

Knowing what was coming, he turned to the disgruntled German and said, “Not yet Arno, not yet.” This time Arno didn’t even bother cursing; he just waved his hand at his coach and went to the far end of the bench.

The second half was a different story, with Kenosha Tap pulling out to an early lead. Before long, the margin had grown so large that Plaisted knew what he had to do. With the game seemingly in hand, he stood up smirking, winked at the crowd and shouted out, “Now Arno, now!”

The special secret weapon was about to be unleashed.

Arno sprang to his feet, almost falling as he pulled off his grimy sweatpants. Initially the crowd roared its’ approval and then broke into laughter when Arno finally succeeded in getting his sweatpants off, revealing shorts that were only slightly larger than a pair of Speedos.

What ensued was not for the faint of heart.

The special secret weapon went on a vicious rampage and nobody was going to stop him. His elbows were flying, knocking opponents out of the way. He threw up high-arching hook shots that came nowhere near the backboard, let alone the basket.

He dove for every loose ball and challenged his opponents for every rebound. At one point he leapt high for a rebound, curling both legs underneath himself. It was a thing of beauty. The only problem was that he forgot to straighten his legs out and crashed to the hard wooden court, landing on his boney knees. The fans gasped, shuddered and cringed before beginning to giggle.

It should be noted that this all took place in a span of about 5 minutes.

As the beer-guzzling, chain-smoking man from Germany attempted to get up, he looked to the bench and beckoned to Plaisted to take him out, he had had enough. Plaisted broke into a wide grin and replied, “Not yet Arno, not yet.”

For the next 10 minutes, the feisty Kraut struggled up and down the court, his weather-beaten face growing redder each step he took. Every time there was a stoppage of play he would plead to be taken out of the game. Each time, Plaisted’s response was the same, “Not yet Arno, not yet.”

Almost mercifully, with 2 minutes left in the game, Jubilee Lounge took a timeout. A crimson-faced Arno hobbled over to the bench and glared at his coach. Plaisted, fighting back laughter, decided to give in and said, “Okay, Arno, you can sit down now.”

But Arno did not sit down. Instead he kept staggering down the sideline, wheezing and gasping for breath every shaky step of the way. There was a hush over the crowd; all eyes were now on Arno as he continued his unsteady journey toward the corner of the court.

Ultimately he disappeared behind the bleachers in the southwest corner of Bullen Jr. High’s gymnasium. Fans, players and officials stared at each other, questioning what had become of Arno, the special secret weapon.

The powerful retching noise that was emitted,
quickly answered everyone’s question.

After he finished regurgitating, he finally came back toward the bench. With tears streaming down his face, he wiped the remnants from his mouth and said, “Thanks you dirty rotten (expletive deleted).” He then took a seat on the bench and quietly watched Kenosha Tap seal its’ victory over Jubilee Lounge.

I hope that you enjoyed my tribute to this superstar. If you would like to read more tales about Arno Schubert click on either Arno or Schubert in the Label section below the blog.
Until next time…from the booth.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Rest In Peace Fred

This past Monday night I attended a meeting of softball luminaries to discuss a potential Hall of Fame. Before we even got started, Pat Hegewald informed me that Fred “Doc” Tenuta had just passed away, losing a battle with cancer. I was shocked. Only 57 years old, he went to Tremper High School before graduating from Marquette University Dental School in 1980. Fred was an active member of the Kiwanis Club and served as the advisor to the Key Club at Tremper. He was also very involved with his alma mater’s sports programs, particularly football and basketball.

His love of sports flowed onto the softball diamond and was involved with many teams. It would be tough to recall all of the different teams that he kept scorebook for. Because I don’t want to overlook anyone, I won’t even attempt to try.

It was through softball that I first met Fred. If he wasn’t bringing a lineup up to the booth at historic Finney’s West, he was keeping book against my 400 Club team in a city league game. No matter where it was, Fred usually had his signature grin working. He always seemed to be smiling.

Well, there was one time that he wasn’t smiling.

On that particular night, the 400 Club was playing Pasquali’s Snowblind Oasis in a 6:00 tilt at expansive Roosevelt Park. Fred was keeping their book and every 5 minutes, starting at 5:45, I hollered across the diamond to see if he had their lineup for me.

Each time I got the same response, “Not yet Puddles, we’re waiting for guys.” I knew what he was going through, I hated that feeling. Finally, two minutes before game time, Fred came over to give me Snowblind’s lineup.

As he started reading off the names, he grumbled, “Looks like we’re only playing with nine guys tonight.” After each name he would glance down 68th street, hoping to see another player. Then, after reading the eighth name, he finished with an uneasy, “And I guess I’m batting ninth and catching.”

Wow, I thought to myself, Snowblind really was short if Fred had to play.

Playing the Snowblind with only nine guys was an edge for my team. Playing them with Fred as the ninth guy was a HUGE edge for my team.

Fred was a first-rate dentist; an all-around nice guy and he possessed many fine qualities. Playing softball wasn’t one of them. That’s why he kept score. He didn’t want to play and I realized that. 

A small part of me felt sorry for Fred that warm summer night. In all my years of managing the 400 Club, I never had to play one inning. I always made sure we had enough guys. I never wanted to have to go through what Fred was about to.

The game started out innocently enough as we grabbed a quick lead. By the time Fred came to bat in the third inning, that lead had become comfortable.

As he tentatively stepped into the batter’s box, I shouted at my outfielders to come in a few steps. I knew Fred had absolutely no power and I didn’t want a blooper falling in.

Hey, I said small part of me felt sorry for him. They rest of me wanted to win.

Not satisfied with how much my outfield came in, I stood up and hollered even louder, “Will you guys move in? He’s never gonna hit it that far.” Satisfied, I turned to sit back down.

Before my ample backside hit that bench, Fred stepped out of the batter’s box stared straight at me and hollered, “Will you shut up, Puddles! I feel bad enough as it is!”

Somewhat embarrassed, I mumbled an apology and then watched Fred hit a feeble popup to second base.

For the rest of the game, I kept my mouth shut each time Fred came to the plate. It didn’t really matter, though. He didn’t get any hits and we went on to win the game handily.

After the game Fred’s signature grin returned and from that point on I tried to never make Fred feel bad again. It was much nicer seeing him smile.

Rest in peace Fred.

Dear God, please remember our brothers and sisters who have gone to their rest in the hope of rising again; may you bring them and all the departed into the light of your presence.

Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Survivor 24.2

 Here’s the Official Survivor: One World Recap Trilogy (well almost) for week two:

I was going to write something about Colton today. I was going to try to be all clever and snarky about how he is a man without a tribe and how he really needs to grow a pair and get in this game.

Then I thought maybe I would skip that and write about the women on this season and how they don't seem to have one good brain between the lot of them. I was going to say something about how I work with almost exclusively women and we have to rely on each other as a team and I've never seen this level of bitchy ineptitude in my life.

I scrapped all of those ideas and made a decision to focus on the challenge and Tribal Council. I suspected the women would be there at Tribal so I figured I could save some of my most biting remarks for that.

Yep, that was the plan – write about Tribal Council.

But then something absolutely horrific happened. It was brief (no pun intended). It was only on screen for maybe 2 minutes tops. But the horrible sight is now forever etched in my brain. It was...

Tarzan dancing around the fire in his bikini underpants. YIKES!!!

First of all, the man resembles a very hairy Dr. Ruth Westheimer - without her sense of rhythm. I have only seen legs that bowed on a sway back horse my Uncle Leo used to own.

And the undies themselves…were they grey? Oh dear lord I hope they were grey and that wasn't just filth. Stuff was hanging out and waggling about that just shouldn't have been and, honestly, I was so horrified that the rest of the show was something of a blur! I'm sure I will have nightmares tonight.

Oh yes, the women lost the challenge because they can't seem to do much of anything that requires thinking. Tribal was the usual cat fight, as expected. But, man oh man; I can't wash that scary image of that hairy, woefully underdressed Neanderthal stomping around the open fire as his Tribe mates chanted his name. Make it go way! Please make it go away!!

Wow, I’m at a loss for words. What did I just witness? I went from uncomfortable to titillated, back to uncomfortable and finally, disappointed. I have to break my portion of the recap into sections: Tarzan’s Junk on Display, a Special Challenge Spoiled and a Tribal Council Rerun.

The first time I became uncomfortable tonight was when we were presented with a fairly good view of Tarzan’s 64-year old “junk”. Or, as Fellow Survivor Geek Patty 4-Names messaged me on facebook, “YOU COULD TOTALLY SEE THAT GUY’S PENIS THROUGH HIS UNDERPANTS!”

Ya, it was pretty much that obvious. Tarzan’s dirty blue skimpy underpants brought back awkward memories of season 22 and Special Agent Phil’s pink drawers.

To make matters worse, the Tarzan show wasn’t limited to him just walking around camp flaunting his package. No sir, he began dancing! At first it was a slow circular gyrating motion, but it quickly progressed into a full-blown Wango-Tango with the rest of the guys chanting, “Tarzan, Tarzan!”

Just when I thought I was scarred for life, I was treated to a visually “stimulating” Immunity Challenge. The members of each tribe had to stand side by side on a narrow balance beam above the water. One by one, the person on the end had to cross the balance beam to the other end, groping and grinding against their tribe mates.

Watching the dim-witted Kat struggling to get by Alicia’s “big old boobs”, I was happy. I thought to myself, this was going to be good! Hell, this had the potential for greatness.

Then it happened.

Suddenly a high-pitched voice shrieked, “Hold me! Hold me!” Which was followed by, “Wrap your arms around me!” No, it wasn’t Kat, Alicia, Kim, Chelsea, Christina, Sabrina or even Nina.

It was that damn Colton…

Seeing Colton’s effeminate little body wrapped around the beef cakeyness (thanks Mary Beth) of Matt did it for me. My brief moment of titillation instantly reverted to that creepy uncomfortable feeling that Tarzan had provided me with earlier.

Talk about a buzz kill. Thanks Colton…

From that point on, it was strictly downhill. The men from Manono dominated the challenge, sending the Salani ladies to Tribal Council. When the 51-year old Nina starting yapping about the tribe’s lack of communication, it was a foregone conclusion that she was being sent packing.

Oh sure, producer Mark Burnett tried to make you believe that there was an outside chance that the pea-brained Kat might be voted off, but I knew better. Been there, done that. It happens all too often.

Emmy award-winning host, Jeff Probst did his best to make Tribal Council interesting, but like I said, it was a fete de complete. Kat cried a little bit and then Nina was told, “The tribe has spoken”. No drama whatsoever.

Due to scheduling and technical difficulties, Jamie was not able to provide her witty repartee tonight. The From The Booth staff is making every effort to provide you with her portion of the recap before next week’s episode. Please accept my apology.

Until next time…from the booth.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

This ‘n’ That

Since I don’t really have an idea for topic that will fill an entire blog and lack inspiration, I have decided to write about a few things that have been bouncing around inside my ginormous head. Just some random thoughts, a little of this ‘n’ that. 

 This past week I placed an order with Danny’s Meats. They are located on the far north side of Racine and the route to get up there makes for a lengthy schlep, so I chose to pay the considerable fee to have it delivered.

Because Danny’s beef sticks and jerky is second to none and I hadn’t enjoyed it for many months, I felt it was worth the cost. My only concern, considering the hefty delivery charge, was whether to tip the guy dropping it off and if so, how much?

Of course, my friend Patty was of no help. When asked her opinion, she retorted, “I don’t know, I would never pay that much to have it delivered.” Then she promptly asked if would send her some beef sticks. Thanks, Patty.

In the end, I gave the kid in the baseball hat $5 for his trouble, figuring he probably didn’t get any of the delivery fee. By the look of the grin on his face, he genuinely appreciated the gratuity. That made me feel good.

It also made me think about tipping in general - how much is appropriate for various services? After looking at a couple of online tipping guides, this was the general consensus:       

Food Server – 15-20%
Busboys – Nothing, unless they did something special, then $1-2
Barber/Hairstylist - $2-3
Bartender - $1/drink or 15% of total bill
Pizza or Food deliveries – 10-15%, but never less than $2
Barista – No tip required, though many suggest throwing change in tip jar.

I was cool with all of these numbers and meet or exceed the minimum requirements.

Except for one, the barista.

The next time I reward someone for handing me a cup of coffee will also be the first time. Barista. What genius came up with that job title, anyways? My online dictionary defines barista as “a person who serves in a coffee bar.”

Do you tip the person at McDonald’s or Burger King for basically doing the same thing? I think not. If you do, may God bless you. In fact, the next time you purchase an overpriced cup of coffee at Starbucks, make sure you give your barista a few extra shekels, because they aren’t getting it from me.

This morning I received a phone call from Tirabassi softball great, Gene Willems. He was wondering whether I was still looking for material for a second Kenosha softball book.

When told that I had put that project on hold for the time being, he seemed a bit disappointed, telling me that he a couple of good stories for me.

Never one to pass up a softball anecdote, I told Gene that I would be glad to hear what he had for possible future use. We agreed to set up a meeting in the near future so I could get his information.

Before hanging up, the distinguished first baseman gave me a brief sample of what he had to offer.

Tirabassi was playing a tournament in Rockford, Illinois. After the team had finished playing ball on Saturday, they returned to their hotel to cleanup and relax. Willems’ roommates were softball all-stars in any league – Dick Laba, Denny Deloria and Jack Zimmerman.

Laba, long regarded as one of Kenosha’s finest, played professional softball with Milwaukee Schlitz. Deloria, crafty and skilled, achieved success at every level he competed at. Zimmerman was unique. Besides being a talented softball player, he also was a gifted football player, having played at Carthage College.

Once back at the hotel, the talented quartet made their plans for the evening. Willems and Laba decided they would get cleaned up and go out to explore Rockford’s nightlife.

Deloria and Zimmerman had other plans.

As Willems and Laba readied themselves to go out, they noticed their teammates were playing dice. To their surprise, Deloria and Zimmerman were shooting dice against the hotel room wall in a spirited game of craps.

Legend has it that after a while, Deloria told Zimmerman he had enough and he was going to take a shower. Undaunted, Zimmerman said, “Okay, do you mind if I shoot for both of us?” Deloria chuckled, said, “Sure, knock yourself out” and went to get cleaned up.

When he stepped out of the shower fifteen minutes later he was greeted by Zimmerman who handed him a twenty-dollar bill. All he said was, “You won, Denny.” I told you Zimmerman was unique.


Since receiving multiple iTunes gift cards for Christmas, my digital music collection has increased considerably. I currently have 2024 songs, which amounts to 5.6 days of musical bliss and requires 14.89 GB of space. Ranging from AC/DC to Zen for Primates, here are the top 15 artists in my collection based on total number of tunes.

The Who – 327
R.E.M. – 160
The Clash – 99
The BoDeans – 95
Dropkick Murphys - 95
The Rolling Stones – 46
Queen – 37
Alice Cooper – 36
David Bowie – 35
U2 – 33
The Beatles – 30
Led Zeppelin – 27
World Party – 27
Bob Dylan – 25
John Lennon – 24

And finally, don’t forget the Survivor Contest! Scroll down to the blog directly below this one, “Survivor 24.1” for details. Your entry must be in before the next episode of Survivor on Wednesday. What are you waiting for???

Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Survivor 24.1

The Emmy Award-winning reality series premiered tonight. Survivor: One World began with iconic Jeff Probst welcoming eighteen new castaways as they embark on the adventure of a lifetime. The Salani and Manono tribes are being abandoned on the same beach on a Polynesian Island. There is also contest news, make sure you enter. With that being said, here is your first Official Survivor: One World Recap Trilogy for Season 24!

Mary Beth’s 2Cents: First of all, I can honesty say I was so excited to have this season of Survivor start! I almost hurt myself getting to the TV when it started, that's just how big a geek I am! Now, having said that, there were a few things that stood out in this first episode that I would be remiss if I didn't mention.

The concept of “One World” - I love it. Two tribes, one camp and let the mayhem begin! But I wasn't thrilled to see the tribes split up by sexes again. They've done that dynamic before and truly having “one world” would mean that the sexes should be mixed together.

The whole initial setting up of the two areas of camp started to get to be a little ridiculous! And speaking of ridiculous, I'm still not sure what the fuss was about over Christine bartering to get fire. Anybody? Anyone? Bueller? However, that argument leads me to…

Women are just silly. Now, I am a woman and, I think, a damn, fine strong one too. But time and again, women on television shows where they have to either live or work together prove that they are just silly people. Making silly rash judgments, hurtling themselves with arms akimbo after many warnings from Probst to hold those arms in and arguing over the silliest things. This leads me to…

Men are pretty damn silly too. Matt, the lawyer dude is the King of Silly Men. Sitting on his rock of a throne telling it “like it is” in all his beef cakeyness. (I just made that word up!)

He couldn't get over the ladies not giving up a chicken after the men stole all their gear. Then the other beef cakies decide the best alliance has to be based on who's got the larger pec muscles in the bunch and they grunt congratulations to each other for making that good decision. They actually have someone on there that calls himself Troyzan! Really! Which brings me to…

Colton…sigh…Colton, Colton, Colton. “Hello, I'm gay and I don't fit in. Save me!” And the lady did (not sure of her name just yet) instantly giving him the idol she found without even thinking it might make sense to take a good look at how deciding who she gave it to could help her. Colton is going to help her? Don't think so. He's not long on this season. I can feel it. Which brings me too…

Probst! He is by far the best host in television. Probst is Survivor. I've heard rumors he's thinking of retiring from this gig. Say it ain't so, Jeff…say it ain't so. 

Okay, I'm going to talk about the elephant in the room. 

Right from the start Probst questions the old guy, the gay guy, one of the beefcakes and the quirky girl, but not one question or even glance at the LITTLE PERSON IN THE FRONT ROW??

I'm all for being politically correct, but how is it okay for Probst to ask an old guy how he thinks he'll do out there but says nothing to the man with the truncated limbs? Turns out “Shorty”, as I am going to affectionately call him, faired pretty well. 

He's got bigger muscles than some of the beef cakers but I was afeared for his life during the challenge because he almost launched himself into the ocean when he jumped into that bouncy net! 

Anyway, Survivor's back, baby! I'm going to take my time getting to know this cast and take their shenanigans as it comes! Gotta say, I'm loving it so far!

Jamie’s Prognosis: I haven’t read up on this season at all so I approached tonight’s season opener cold with no pre-picked favorites. I’m sure PV is going to give an awesome synopsis and rundown of this years rules and plot twists, so I’m just going to jump right in and tell you what was running through my mind as I watched.

The journey started with Jeff Probst riding in on the outside of the helicopter and I really hate it when he does that. It’s scary and also more than a little schmaltzy. But he does it every season, and he’s still alive so I guess it’s OK.

As we were introduced to the tribe of 18 Americans I couldn’t help but wonder… why not some Europeans? I see that as a potential future plot twist and want “rights” to the concept, but I digress.

As the castaways were given 60 seconds to strip the truck they rode in on of anything they could carry, Banker Michael was the first to begin stealing items from the girls while they had their backs turned. Imagine! A banker! Stealing!!

My initial favorite was Kourtney, who sported a menagerie of tattoo’s as well as a funky knit hat on the beach. The other chicks didn’t really like her because she was different but I did.

Clearly the most colorful cast member this week was Colton, who is very, very gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that). When he found out that the groups would be divided along male-female lines, he was devastated that he couldn’t go with the girls. I kind of loved that and he’s at the top of my list as a potential fave right now.

 The female tribe was named Salina. The alpha female emerged with a mighty roar in Survivorette Alicia. She was opinionated, bossy, angry, and her boobs were flopping around everywhere. She could go far.

Sabrina was the first castaway to find a hidden immunity idol, which she unfortunately couldn’t keep for herself. She got a lot of camera time and she seems like a strong and likeable contestant. She is also on my top contestant list thus far. I can’t remember any of the other girls names right now so that’s how I feel about them.

The male tribe was given the name Manono, which in Samoan means tribe of beefcake. I must say that there are some very attractive young men on this season; tall, muscular, chiseled… I felt like a couch cougar on the prowl watching them strut around. It felt like I had wandered into Abercrombie and Fitch at the mall.

Leading the beefcakes is Matt, an opinionated, bossy angry man whose shirt disappeared almost as soon as he got off the bus. He could go far. The guys also have a short person as well as both a Tarzan AND a Troyzan, which is just weird.

The guys seem to be a stronger group. They made fire easily without flint and seemed to be more cohesive. The girls were kind of a mess if you ask me. They didn’t organize their camp very well, they couldn’t agree on things and they tried to rub a couple of sticks together in a hopeless attempt to make their own fire.

However, they DID fashion a giant pair of tweezers that they used to steal an ember from the men’s fire as they slept. But then they let it die out before morning light, duh. And unfortunately my initial favorite Kourtney broke her wrist during the immunity challenge and thus was eliminated.

My early prediction is that lawyer Matt and special ed teacher Alicia will form an evil male-female alliance and will attempt total island domination.

The Booth’s Bits: Because I want to go over the contest details one more time, I will keep my recap short and sweet - no offense, Leif. First of all, the Men vs. Women format stinks. It just isn’t fair, especially with this group. What a bunch of boobs! (Pun intended)

Call me a misogynist, but these ladies from the Salani are already going for each other’s throats and are in big trouble. The only thing that could have made Tribal Council bitchier would be if Manono’s Colton was included in the fray.

Sabrina made one ginormous mistakes already. First she was the first competitor to use the gut-wrenching phrase, “Game on!” I can’t stand that; it’s so ‘90s.

Another objectionable member of the Salani tribe is Alicia. If you look up shrew in the dictionary, I’m pretty sure that her picture will be right next to the definition. The only thing bigger than her ego is her Chicago-style booty. The sad thing is, she’s a special ed teacher.

Please don’t think that I’m giving the guys from the Manono tribe a free pass to the finals. Basically, they are 4 himbos, 2 Tarzan wannabes, a Benihanas sous chef on leave, a Russell Hantz Mini Me and Colton. It’s just that Salani is acting like a pack of dysfunctional high school prom queen contestants. Those females need to get their act together quick or the males and Colton will make short work of them. Oops, sorry Leif.

Now, let’s get to the contest that I first wrote about in my “Survivor Time!” blog on February 6. It is my way to celebrate the 24th season of this great reality show and say thank you to the loyal readers at the same time.

Hopefully this is self-explanatory and understandable. If not, ask questions!

Contest Rules:

1.    Predict the Survivors who will make up the final three. Please use only full names as they appear in the list. No nicknames!

2.    As a tiebreaker, predict who will be voted off in the second episode. If no one picks the correct person for week two, whoever predicts the earliest one evicted after week one wins.

3.    If there is still a tie, the earliest entry of those tied wins.

To enter you must send me an email at All entries must be received no later than 7:00 pm CST on Wednesday, February 22, 2012. This gives everyone one full episode to form their opinions and time to do any research they might want to do.

The 18 Castaways

Alicia Rosa, 25, Chicago, IL, Special Ed Teacher

Bill Posley, 28, Venice, CA, Stand-up Comedian

Chelsea Meissner, 26, Charleston, SC, Medical Sales

Christina Cha, 29, West Hollywood, CA, Career Consultant

Colton Cumbie, 21, Monroeville, AL, College Student

Greg Smith, 64, Houston, TX, Plastic Surgeon

Jay Byars, 25, Gaffney, SC, Model

Jonas Otsuji, 37, Lehi, UT, Sushi Chef

Kat Edorsson, 22, Orlando, FL, Timeshare Rep

Kim Spradlin, 29, San Antonio, TX, Bridal Shop Owner

Kourtney Moon, 29, Austin, TX, Motorcycle Repair

Leif Manson, 27, San Diego, CA, Phlebotomist

Matt Quinlan, 33, San Francisco, CA, Attorney

Michael Jefferson, 30, Seattle, WA, Banker

Monica Culpepper, 41, Tampa, FL, Ex-NFL Player’s Wife

Nina Acosta, 51, Clovis CA, Retired LAPD Officer

Sabrina Thompson, 33, Brooklyn, NY, High School Teacher

Troy Robertson, 50, Miami, FL, Swimsuit Photographer

Want to know what you’re playing for? Sounded like Jeff Probst, didn’t I? 

The prizes are: an autographed copy of Some Kenosha Softball, an official Survivor buff and a Some Kenosha Softball cap.

First place will get their choice of the prizes with second place choosing next and third place will receive the remaining prize.

Hopefully this isn’t too complicated. Again, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Pass the word, the more the merrier. Make sure you get your choices in before next weeks show and vote on the new poll!

Until next time…from the booth.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What’s In The Box

Yesterday we had a small get-together to celebrate my Mom’s birthday. Nothing lavish, just cookies and Hawaiian Punch, but it was great to see how happy Mom was having her family with her. It was also interesting to see the different ways her gifts were packaged. There were envelopes, boxes and bags concealing what was inside. 

While these various containers were all very nice, it was what was inside that mattered. Isn’t that is what we really care about when we receive something?

We care about what’s in the box.

If what’s inside is what we are really concerned with, why do we go out of our way to gift-wrap something all fancy-schmancy? When I give my nephews, John and Ryan a present, they couldn’t care less what the package looks like. They want what’s inside the box; they want the important stuff.

Maybe it’s the adults that worry too much how things look on the outside. Sometimes we seem to be more concerned about the pretty, sparkly exterior than we are with what is inside. The important stuff.

Kids get it. They look right past all of the superficial wrapping, tearing it away to get at what is most valuable. They want what’s in the box.

When you think about it, why should we adults be any different about packages than we are with other people. Just like with gifts, we seem to concern ourselves more with how someone looks rather than what kind of person they are.

With a large number of people, the most important thing is how attractive someone is, not what they have to offer as a human being. That is extremely sad.

Guys, how many times have you been attracted to a woman only because she was a knockout and had all of the “latest upgrades”? And ladies, how often have you swooned over a man based solely based on his pearly whites and his six-pack abs?

We are all guilty of this to some extent. Personally I have seen female TV personalities and thought, “Hubba hubba!” Then she opened her mouth and I stopped drooling. I quickly realized that the next time she had an original thought it would also be the first time.

I’m afraid that by not caring about “what’s in the box”, we miss out on some truly wonderful and beautiful people that have so much to offer. That is tragic.

Too bad we’re not more like kids. They get it. Just like with packages, they aren’t concerned with the outer package, they want what’s inside. They want what’s in the box.

Kids don’t care if you are white or black, fat or thin, pretty or homely. What they care about is whether or not you love them, that you make them feel safe or that you can make them laugh when they are sad or hurting.

A young kid will see through a phony in the blink of an eye. They aren’t worried about how pretty the “package” is. They have an uncanny ability to care about what really counts in a person. Kids get it.

We adults would do well to learn from kids. We need to stop putting such an emphasis on how outwardly attractive someone is and start to look for what they have on the inside. We need to find out what’s in the box.

I’m gonna go listen to The Who. Maybe, “The Kids Are Alright”. Until next time…from the booth.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

THAT Bobby Douglass?

The name of this blog is From The Booth for a reason. Beginning in the late ‘70s, softball was a major part of my life. When I wasn’t managing the 400 Club, I could be found in the booth at historic Finney’s West announcing games. During a typical week I was in that booth for 18 to 24 games. All those thousands of games provided me with countless memories. A special recollection was the time a famous quarterback played in a tournament.

It was an early Saturday morning in late June and I was calling for lineups for a first round game. I recognized one of the teams, but wasn’t familiar with the other. They were from northern Illinois and were signed up as Coca Cola.

After a second request, the manager of the Coca Cola team climbed the 13 rickety wooden steps up to the booth. The first words out of his mouth immediately told me this team was going to be interesting.

“We didn’t know this was a 12-inch tournament, we play 16-inch!”

Evidently they had assumed it was a 16-inch tourney and most of the guys hadn’t even bothered to bring gloves. The manager went downstairs to discuss the situation with his players. After a short meeting, they decided they would borrow some gloves and give it a shot.

Then he turned in his lineup.

As was my usual practice, I quickly scanned the lineup card in case there were any difficult names to pronounce. I didn’t get any further then the cleanup hitter. 

I looked up and said, “Coach, your right fielder, he’s not THAT Bobby Douglass, is he?” He nonchalantly replied, “Ya, why?” I blurted out something like, “just wondering” and wished him good luck.

For the uninformed, Bobby Douglass was an All-American quarterback who played most of NFL career with the Chicago Bears. He also played for the San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers. Douglass retired after the 1978 season, playing a total of 10 seasons in the NFL.

In 1972, while playing for the Chicago Bears, Douglass set the record for the most rushing yards by a quarterback in one season. The record stood for 34 tears. In that 14-game season, he ran for 968 yards and 8 touchdowns on 141 carries.

Now you can understand why I was taken aback when I saw his name in the Coca Cola lineup. After quickly scribbling the names onto my scorecard, I looked on the field at the Coca Cola players warming up, attempting to get use to the smaller ball.

There he was!

Wearing his familiar number ten, the muscular 6’4” athlete didn’t look a pound over the 225 pounds he weighed when he was setting records in the NFL. His blond locks were still shoulder length and framed his chiseled bronze face.

It was THAT Bobby Douglass!

It didn’t take long for others in the ballpark to become aware that there was an NFL legend playing softball at the corner of highways E and 31 in Somers, Wisconsin.

Especially after I announced him as “former Green Bay Packer great, Bobby Douglass”.

The big lefty stepped out of the batters and grinned up at the booth as the crowd began to buzz. Being from Illinois, his teammates razzed him about the Packer reference, but Douglass didn’t seem to mind.

Not being sure how Douglass would take the “publicity”, I was relieved to see his reaction. That was good, because for the next two days, there was a steady stream of kids coming up to the booth asking for used softballs so the football hero could autograph them.

Douglass didn’t seem to mind all of the hoopla, so I continued the grandiose introductions each time he would step to the plate. I would mention any stat or piece of minutia about him that I could think of and the crowd loved it. Everyone was having a great time.

The Coca Cola team didn’t fare badly, considering they were a 16-inch team playing in a 12-inch tournament. Bobby Douglass was an solid hitter and had a rocket of an arm, gunning down those who were foolish enough to run on the ex-NFL quarterback.

When his team was finally eliminated early Sunday afternoon, Bobby Douglass climbed the 13 rickety wooden steps up to the booth. Still a bit in awe, I managed to tell him that I hoped he didn’t mind all of the extra attention.

I will never forget what Douglass did next.

As he extended his massive hand, he said, “I want to thank you for making me feel special again. I haven’t felt like this since I was playing in the NFL. Thank you.” He then shook my hand and left the booth.

Ya, it was THAT Bobby Douglass.

Until next time…from the booth.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Survivor Time!

For 23 seasons Survivor has traveled around the world. Contestants have had to contend with unforgiving oceans, mysterious jungles and unbearable weather in their quest for the title of Sole Survivor and the million-dollar prize that goes along with it. As always, there will be twists to keep things interesting. This time, two tribes will compete against each other while coexisting on the same island. They will have to decide whether to work together or fend for their selves in the adventure of a lifetime.

As previously announced, the Official Survivor Recap Trilogy will make its triumphant return. Jamie and Mary Beth have signed on for another season of weekly satirical recaps.

Here is a list of the eighteen individuals who will be competing in the new season:

Alicia Rosa, 25, Chicago, IL, Special Ed Teacher
Bill Posley, 28, Venice, CA, Stand-up Comedian
Chelsea Meissner, 26, Charleston, SC, Medical Sales
Christina Cha, 29, West Hollywood, CA, Career Consultant
Colton Cumbie, 21, Monroeville, AL, College Student
Greg Smith, 64, Houston, TX, Plastic Surgeon
Jay Byars, 25, Gaffney, SC, Model
Jonas Otsuji, 37, Lehi, UT, Sushi Chef
Kat Edorsson, 22, Orlando, FL, Timeshare Rep
Kim Spradlin, 29, San Antonio, TX, Bridal Shop Owner
Kourtney Moon, 29, Austin, TX, Motorcycle Repair
Leif Manson, 27, San Diego, CA, Phlebotomist
Matt Quinlan, 33, San Francisco, CA, Attorney
Michael Jefferson, 30, Seattle, WA, Banker
Monica Culpepper, 41, Tampa, FL, Ex-NFL Player’s Wife
Nina Acosta, 51, Clovis CA, Retired LAPD Officer
Sabrina Thompson, 33, Brooklyn, NY, High School Teacher
Troy Robertson, 50, Miami, FL, Swimsuit Photographer

Here are photos of the Salani and Manono tribes:

Salani Tribe

Manono Tribe
Two Tribes. One World. One Survivor.

Survivor: One World is season 24 of the award-winning reality show and will be the eighth for my yet-to-be awarded blog. To honor these milestones, I have decided to run a Survivor contest for all my Fellow Survivor Geeks. 

Contest Rules:

1.    Predict the Survivors who will make up the final three. Please use only full names as they appear in the list. No nicknames!
2.    As a tiebreaker, predict who will be voted off in the second episode. If know one picks the correct person for week two, whoever predicts the earliest one evicted after week one wins.
3.    If there is still a tie, the earliest entry wins.

To enter you must send me an email at All entries must be received no later than 7:00 pm CST on Wednesday, February 22, 2012. This gives everyone one full episode to form their opinions and time to do any research they might want to do.

Want to know what you’re playing for? Sounded like Jeff Probst, didn’t I?

The prizes are: an autographed copy of Some Kenosha Softball, an official Survivor: Pearl Islands buff and a Some Kenosha Softball cap.

First place will get their choice of the prizes with second place choosing next and third place will receive the remaining prize.

Hopefully this isn’t too complicated. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Pass the word, the more the merrier. Don’t forget to vote in the new poll – it’s about your favorite reality show!

Until next time…from the booth.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Ramble On

Since my last two blogs have been of a more personal nature, I thought I had better change things up this time. At first I considered pulling something out of the Koos Vault or doing a 400 Club blast. I even thought about writing a new tale from my days at American Air Filter. Then I was reminded that tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday and that the Green Bay Packers were not participating. Thanks, Patty. This prompted me to write a column of inane blathering. So please read on, as I ramble on.

Even though the Packers were eliminated from the playoffs on January 15, the NFL is insisting on playing the Super Bowl. Though I couldn’t care less who wins the game, I will be watching.


Yes, I will be glued to the set from the moment Kelly Clarkson finishes singing the word “brave”. While I don’t care which team wins, I definitely have a rooting interest. I have invested a few shekels in a playoff pool and need Eli Manning, Ahmad Bradshaw and Wes Welker to have big games.

Should that trio of players do well tomorrow night; I stand to finish “in the money”. The top four places pay off and I am currently in third place. Of course we are talking about “for entertainment purposes only”. It’s all for fun. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Yes, it’s all about the numbers. A friend of mine, who just happens to be a Bear fan, will be watching and rooting for these numbers: 4 and 8, 1 and 9, 8 and 7, and 6 and 2. Those are her numbers on the pool she is in – again, “for entertainment purposes only”.

So while she roots for those combinations to come up during the big game tomorrow night, I will be pulling for 10, 44 and 83 to shine. Why those numbers, you ask? Those are the uniform numbers of Manning, Bradshaw and Welker. You are welcome to root along with me for all of these numbers.

Numbers. That reminds me of something I am cursed with. I will elaborate as I continue to ramble on.

I am cursed with the unusual ability to recall an athlete’s uniform number. That is, as long as I can visualize the player in my mind. And I’m not just talking about current competitors.

For example – 50, 23, 14, 17, 4, 19, 24, 20 and 22.

That is the starting lineup for the 1982 American League Milwaukee Brewers. I did that without looking it up. Honest. So that you don’t have to look it up, the players were: Pete Vuckovich, Ted Simmons, Cecil Cooper, Jim Gantner, Paul Molitor, Robin Yount, Ben Oglivie, Gorman Thomas and Charlie Moore.

Not impressed?  Here’s a tougher example: 86, 84, 81, 75, 64, 50, 63, 76, 15, 5, 31, 82, 74, 77, 87, 89, 66, 60, 26, 25, 24, 40 and 34.

Those numbers represent the offensive and defensive starters from the 1966 Super Bowl Champion Green Packers, complete with kicker. Once again, I promise, I did not look them up.

Here are the names that coincide with those numbers: Boyd Dowler, Carroll Dale, Marv Fleming, Forrest Gregg, Jerry Kramer, Billy Curry, Fuzzy Thurston, Bob Skoronski, Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, Jim Taylor, Lionel Aldridge, Henry Jordan, Ron Kostelnik, Willie Davis, Dave Robinson, Ray Nitschke, Lee Roy Caffey, Herb Adderley, Bob Jeter, Willie Wood, Tom Brown and Don Chandler.

Pretty cool, huh?

Speaking of Bart Starr, did you know that isn’t his real name? Oops, time for me to ramble on.

Here are the real names of some famous people.

Bart Starr, Packers – Bryan Bartlett Starr
A.J. Hawk, Packers – Aaron James Hawk
B.J. Raji, Packers – Busari J. Raji Jr.
Hulk Hogan – Terry Gene Bollea
Randy Hundley, Cubs – Cecil Randolph Hundley
Chipper Jones, Braves – Larry Wayne Jones
PelĂ© – Edison Arantes Do Nascimento
Tiger Woods – Eldrick Woods
Coco Crisp, Athletics – Covelli Loyce Crisp

Mitt Romney – Willard Mitt Romney
Newt Gingrich – Newton Leroy McPherson

TV personalities:
Chumlee, Pawn Stars – Austin Powell
Fannie Flagg, Match Game – Patricia Neal
Alan Alda, M*A*S*H – Alphonso D’Abruzzo
Chuck Norris, Walker, Texas Ranger – Carlos Ray
Mr. T, The A-Team – Lawrence Tero

Movie Stars:
Michael Keaton – Michael Douglass
Bo Derek – Mary Cathleen Collins
Cary Grant – Archibald Leach
Rock Hudson – Roy Scherer Jr.
Raquel Welch – Raquel Tejada
John Wayne – Marion Michael Morrison

Alice Cooper – Vincent Furnier
Dean Martin – Dino Crocetti
Favor Flav – William Johnson Drayton Jr.
Freddie Mercury – Farrokh Bulsara
Gene Simmons – Chaim Witz
John Denver – Henry John Deutschendorf Jr.
Jon Bon Jovi – John Francis Bongiovi Jr.
Kid Rock – Robert James Ritchie
MC Hammer – Stanley Kirk Burrell
Meat Loaf – Marvin Lee Aday
Lady Gaga – Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta

Okay, now that my head is all gaga, no more rambling. Oh wait; there is one last thing. Make sure you have February 15 marked on your calendars. That is the date for the premier of Survivor: One World, the 24th season of the award-winning reality show.

As an added bonus for all you Fellow Survivor Geeks, the Official Survivor Recap Trilogy returns by popular demand. That’s right, after some tough negotiations, Jamie and Mary Beth have agreed to join me for another season of the trilogy. You won’t want to miss it.

Now, that’s it. No more rambling. Until next time…from the booth.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Remembering A Hero

February 3 is the anniversary of the day my Dad passed on to be with God. Evidently God needed him “up there” more than we did down here. It has been 730 days and I have thought about him each and every one of those days. Some of those thoughts cause me to smile. Great big smiles. Other times they bring tears to my eyes. Great big tears. I guess that’s what happens when you love someone as much as I loved my Dad. I still do. I also miss him. A whole lot.

I know that I am not alone in missing and loving Dad. That goes without saying. Just yesterday, Mom was talking to me about the time Dad bought her a stuffed hippo for Valentine’s Day. It got quiet for a while as we both wiped our eyes.

While, he might have been a bit reserved when it came to public displays of emotion, be assured that Dad deeply touched the hearts of all those close to him. Just ask his wife and children or any of his brothers. Ask his sister-in-laws, nephews, nieces, grandchildren, cousins, and friends…

You get the picture; he touched the hearts of many people.

Dad never did things just for show; he wasn’t trying to impress anybody. But he certainly impressed me. I marveled at how he would do whatever it took to make his family happy. Dad did things because he cared. He was brought up that way. He didn’t know any other way.

We were all so blessed.

If Dad wasn’t touching you with his actions, he was doing it with a corny joke or that silly look that he inherited from his Pop, my Grandpa ‘Noni. Dad had an exceptional ability to express his love without uttering a single word. You just knew he loved you. It was a wonderful thing.

Although he wasn’t trying to, Dad made a lasting impression on all those who knew him. This was evidenced when my folks, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on June 30th, 2006. After they renewed their vows at a 5:00 mass at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, the celebration moved over to the Moose Lodge.

Before the dinner, Uncle John, Dad’s brother and my Godfather, made a toast to the guests of honor. Uncle John, not known for his public speaking, delivered a memorable speech that was both eloquent and heartfelt.

During his touching talk, he mentioned that Dad had always been his hero. As he explained why he considered Dad his hero, tears began streaming down my cheeks. There weren’t a lot of dry eyes after Uncle John finished his moving tribute.

730 days ago, tears were again streaming down my cheeks for Uncle John’s hero. This time for a much different reason. That is when my Dad passed away. It was February 3, 2010.

That same February 3, 2010, I phoned Uncle John and wished him a happy birthday. It was kind of tough and emotional. Despite the circumstances, I knew that it was something should do. I wanted to. His hero would have wanted me to.

I plan on calling Uncle John up later today and wish him a happy birthday. It will be a little easier this time; we have his hero praying for us. I really miss Uncle John’s hero.

I love you Dad.

Dear God, please remember our brothers and sisters who have gone to their rest in the hope of rising again; may you bring them and all the departed into the light of your presence.

Until next time…from the booth.