Thursday, June 28, 2012

Are My Sponsors Real?

A while back my friend Pat asked me if I was getting my blog sponsored. This made me smile because someone had actually noticed the ads that I had created and posted on the right side of the site. I explained to him that, while these are not technically sponsors, the ads are very real. The reason I have placed them on my blog is because these businesses belong to good people and deserve to be recognized.

I asked each of them to send me a paragraph or two to promote their business. Check them out and please patronize them whenever possible.

Paul De Luisa sent me the following about Luisa’s Pizza:

July 1st marks 16 years in Wheatland for me. I started making pies when I was 12 years old at Valeo’s in Kenosha. At 25, I was working in a factory and wanted out. So I saved my money, sold my house and set out on this adventure. When I first moved out to the “sticks” in 1996, I wasn’t sure what I was in for. After discovering that there was running water, flush toilets, cable and decent people, I didn’t regret the move west. My only regret is the time when the business keeps me away from my family.

The restaurant has specials throughout the week. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Luisa’s delicious pizzas are half price if you pay with cash. When you pay with cash on Thursdays, you receive 30 percent off. Luisa’s
popular fish fry is featured on Friday nights. The chicken on Saturday is a tradition, made with the same recipe that has been used in the building for the last 30 years.

Office Manager Tracy Finch provided me with the following information about Absolute Computer Systems:

Located at 8719 Sheridan Road in Kenosha, we are the home of the “Hassle Free Guarantee”. We specialize in on-site, same day business workstation and home computer system service. We offer free estimates & affordable rates. Our average turnaround time for in-shop work is one day (often less).

Our maintenance, repair & update/upgrade practices are the very best, most effective available. Our professionalism, integrity, knowledge and affordable rates coupled with our award winning customer service procedures will have you happily telling all of your friends! Look to us for help with buying, setup, maintaining, networking, and recycling of your home, home office and business computer systems. Call us today to see how we can help.

Sharon Buege had this to say about Sister Act Painting and Creative Treasures:

We have an array of merchandise, something for everyone. We have things old, things new and many things repurposed. Right now we are focused on the yard and garden season and have many fun things for your yard. Custom orders are always being taken for those who may have seen it on Pinterest but do not have the means to create it. Let us do it for you! Have an old ugly furniture piece you don't know what to do with? Give it a face lift with a paint job. Please come check us out, we have everything from books to home decor, furniture, jewelry and many crafted items.

This weekend we are having our 1st ever OVERSTOCK sale. We say, out with the old and in with the new. We have tons of merchandise on sale at 25% off. For an even better deal, buy 3 or more items for our BUNDLE OF JOY. This is for the real bargain shopper. This week’s sale will be Friday and Saturday only. Store hours are Friday 11-5 and Saturday 10-4. Feel free to call me with any questions regarding this event at 262-308-4395. Remember, Sister Act puts the funk back in your junk!

I would like to add one last thing about Sister Act. While you are there, pick up a copy of my book, “Some Kenosha Softball” for only $10!

Once again, I am taking the time to do this because Paul De Luisa of Luisa’s Pizza, Thomas Tassi of Absolute Computer Systems and Sharon Buege from Sister Act Painting and Creative Treasures are all good people who provide a fine product. Please patronize my "sponsors" and when you do, let them know you heard about them on my blog.

Until next time…from the booth.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Another Tale From The Vault

My last blog prompted my friend, Julie, to comment: “I think I would have been nervous working with a heroin addict.” I responded: “Julie, the heroin addict wasn't too bad, but the murderers made me a little nervous. I shall post another blog from the vault this weekend about a very bad person from Koos.” Because of this interest in my days at Koos, I shall do just that. As with all tales from the vault, this one actually took place. 

Please be forewarned that there is graphic language and some rather disturbing violence. With that in mind, here is another tale from the vault.

Harmless. Ya Right…

It was January, the sun was shining and there was only 45 minutes left in the shift. This Friday afternoon had everything necessary to make for an outstanding end to the week. Well, an almost end to the week; we had to work on Saturday from 6:00 am to noon. Besides the shift being nearly over, there were twenty party pizzas from Infusino’s Pizzeria being delivered for the plant meeting scheduled to start at 4:00 pm. For once, the production area at Koos Inc. would actually smell good. There was nothing that could spoil this outstanding Friday afternoon.

What could possibly go wrong? The pizza party masquerading as a plant meeting was to celebrate the successful completion of the last quarter of the K.E.E.P. incentive program. The acronym stood for Koos Employee Empowerment Program. I know it’s kind of corny, but it wasn’t my idea. Oh wait… Yes it was.

Besides having enough pizza to feed a third world country, the union employees were also receiving considerable bonus checks for achieving the goals set for them at the beginning of the quarter. The bonus checks, combined with their overtime checks, made for a very happy workforce that Friday afternoon. There was nothing that could spoil the jovial mood.

This meeting was going to be epic. Every plant employee would be in attendance, union and management. That was the reason for the 4:00 pm start time; it was thirty minutes before first shift ended and thirty minutes before second shift began.

Not only would all the plant employees be present, but the entire office staff would also be in the factory for the event. We’re talking the owners - Peter and his wife Judy, the vice president - Larry, the traffic manager -Jim, inventory supervisor -Jerome and all of the “office ladies” – Louise, Laurie, Millie, Sandy, Christine, Kristy and Kim. Everyone on the Koos payroll would be there.

The plant was humming with excitement. The first shift crew was cheerfully cleaning up while the smiling second shifters were steadily trickling into the production area. When the plethora of pizza arrived, the humming soon turned into an enthusiastic buzz. There was nothing that could spoil this special occasion.

Arnie, the plant manager, grinned as he looked out the window of the small supervisor’s office. He remarked, “Looks like Pete and Judy are getting what they wanted from this program.” I nodded in agreement. The morale at Koos Inc. was definitely at an all time high.

Before I could respond to Arnie, Jim and Jerome entered the office followed by Larry who was beaming. Unable to contain his exuberance, he exclaimed, “Look at those guys! This is great!” There was no denying it; nothing could spoil the atmosphere created by the success of the K.E.E.P. program.

Then the euphoric bubble was suddenly burst. Jeff, the 2nd shift supervisor, barged into the supervisor’s office and shouted, “Freddie is drunk on his ass again.” Freddie was a 2nd shift employee who had a propensity to come to work intoxicated or as Jeff so eloquently put it, “drunk on his ass”. He was suspended recently and was given a final warning.

The Kumbaya moment was spoiled and the collective smile left the cramped quarters. Arnie told Jeff to bring Freddie into the office. The moment Freddie entered, the 10’ by 12’ room reeked of alcohol. Although the boozy stench was overwhelming, what came next was even more offensive.

“F#ck you guys!” and “Get f#cked!” were some of the more pleasant phrases that came out of Freddie’s mouth. Intertwined with his profane tirade were accusations of racial prejudice. The fact that Freddie was Hispanic had nothing to do with the situation. The problem was that he was a violent and obnoxious drunk. And his alcohol-induced onslaught was becoming increasingly more volatile.

To make matters worse, Freddie wasn’t going anywhere despite Arnie and Jeff insisting that he had to go home. Instead, he just kept cussing louder while the stink in the tiny room got more unbearable. The shocked look on Larry’s face was unforgettable.

The situation was deteriorating rapidly. With the owners and the rest of the office staff due to arrive any second, it was obvious that someone had to do something to get Freddie out of the plant.

Seeing that Freddie wasn’t listening to Arnie and Jeff, I grabbed him by the shoulder, pushed him toward the door and bellowed, “You were told to go home, let’s go!” Remarkably, he didn’t offer much resistance and left the supervisor office as I guided him out with my hand still on his shoulder.

As I led Freddie through the stunned employees assembled in the production area, I looked back over my shoulder hoping that one of the other supervisors would join me. Much to my chagrin, not one of them made an effort to assist me.

The fact that no one came to my aid did not please me. Freddie was a good-sized guy and was no shrinking violet, especially when he was all liquored up. I had no idea what he was capable of once we were alone and was in no hurry to find out.

When we left the production area it would be just the two of us for over 100 yards before we got to the front of the building. To say I was concerned would be a gross understatement.

When I slid the door open to leave the production area, I did so with much trepidation. Not knowing what to expect, what happened next astonished me. As I took my hand off of Freddie’s shoulder, he broke down and started sobbing, “Paul, I know I f#cked up, but I can’t lose my job.”

Completely dumbfounded by this turn of events, we continued to walk to the front of the plant. I told Freddie that he was in no condition to debate the issue. I suggested that he go home and sober up and come back tomorrow to discuss his situation with Arnie and Jeff.

When we finally arrived at the front door, Freddie shook my hand and thanked me for listening. I reassured him that this was his only hope of keeping his job. When he left, I quickly made a beeline back to the production area. And it wasn’t to get some pizza.

As I threw open the door to the supervisor’s office I roared, “Thanks a lot!” Arnie and the other supervisors dropped their pizza, caught off guard by my outburst. Jeff asked innocently, “What’s wrong, Paul?”

Shaking my head in disbelief, I told them in no uncertain terms that I would have appreciated some help in escorting Freddie out of the building. Arnie chuckled briefly before telling me, “Come on, Paul, Freddie is harmless!” Frustrated, I grabbed a piece of pizza and left the office to a resounding chorus of “He’s harmless.”

The next day, Arnie and Jeff fired a sober Freddie. He never worked at Koos Inc. again. But it wasn’t the last we heard of him. There was an article in the Kenosha News about Freddie a few weeks later. Evidently he got into some trouble while babysitting his girlfriend’s children and was subsequently arrested.

It seems the youngsters were playing with their pet kitten and Freddie also wanted to play with it. When they wouldn’t let him join in, he became furious and grabbed the kitten and cut its face off with a large kitchen knife. The horrified children called 911 as Freddie finished murdering their pet, smashing its faceless, bloody body repeatedly against the wall.

Harmless. Ya right…

Until next time…from the booth.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Puddles Is The Name

After several humid days of temperatures in the mid 90s, todays high of 85° was somewhat of a relief. But it was still too warm for my liking. Fortunately, my errands were all of the early morning variety and I was in air-conditioned comfort before it really heated up. For some reason, this weather always makes me wonder how I worked at Koos Inc. for nearly 17 years. My employment at 4500 13th Court has provided me with an abundance of thought-provoking stories. Some are fascinating, while others are a bit humorous, but most will leave you shaking your head and saying wow.

This early tale from the Koos vault reveals… 

What Koos Inc. Did To Me

Some of you are probably aware that I have the rather unusual nickname of Puddles. Previously in this blog, I have mentioned how I acquired this unique sobriquet. Today you get the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Koos Inc. is responsible.

It was a sultry June day at Koos Inc. I had been working there a week or so, I still learning the ropes. 40-pound bags of Ortho finest 28-4-8 were the fertilizer du jour. My job was to stack these bright orange bags off a conveyor belt onto a pallet in a specific pattern. The finished pallet of bags would weigh a ton.

2000 glorious pounds.

By the way, did I mention that this ton would be completed in less than 5 minutes? Please don’t feel too sorry for me, I had a partner stacking with me at the end of that miserable conveyor belt. Barring any difficulties, it would spit out 12 to 15 tons of chemical lawn food every hour.

Every hot, sweaty hour.

There were two other guys at the other end of that godforsaken conveyor belt. They filled and sealed the bags. It was also their responsibility to keep track of how many bags and pallets we put out.

We had been working for about an hour and it was beginning to become more humid and muggy. The sweltering atmosphere must have been what woke our Supervisor up from his nap. Rubbing his eyes, he stumbled over to our area and asked for our “count”.

Virgil, the bagger, made up an amount and the Supervisor staggered away satisfied. After he was out of earshot, Harry, the sealer, slapped Virgil on the back of the head and told him to make up a proper tally sheet, complete with our names.

That’s when the nickname Puddles was conceived.

Virgil quickly scribbled down his name and Harry’s as bagger and sealer. Virgil then looked up from the sheet and stared at my stacking partner and me. It should be noted that Virgil had a bit of a problem. It was called heroin. He didn’t know who we were. He was lucky he remembered his own name. So he improvised and gave us nicknames.

Never let it be said that drug altered minds can’t perform under pressure.

Still peering intently, he wrote down “Stretch” for my partner. That actually made sense, Ryan, “Stretch’s” given name, was about 6’5” and weighed about 150 pounds. I wondered what he would put down for me. I was a shade over 6 feet tall and quite a bit more than 150 pounds.

Okay, a whole lot more.

Virgil gawked at me a little longer, whispered something to Harry and then broke into a huge grin of rotting teeth. He proudly announced, “You’re Puddles” and wrote it on the sheet.

Mopping my moist brow, I boldly asked, “Puddles?” Harry spoke up and said that it was because I was sweating so profusely there were puddles around me. Feeling a tad clammy and maybe even sticky, I was in no position to argue. I was officially christened Puddles.

The name has stuck with me as I became involved with softball and the rest is history.

I should mention that it wasn’t only the hot weather that inspired pulling this blog from the vault. This morning I received this brief email from my good friend, John “Kool Papa” Schwarz:
“You're not Puddles, you've never been Puddles. You're Paul Vagnoni, and if anyone has a problem with that, tell them to come and see me. I guarantee, I sweat more than you do.”

Evidently, this weather gets to a lot of people. Even someone called “Kool”. Thanks, John, I needed that.

Until next time…from the booth.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Oh, My Papa

Joyful the sound, the word goes around.
From father to son to son…
That is the photo and those are the words that I have used in my blog for the past three Father’s Days. Each time it is to honor the most beautiful man I have ever known. This year I have decided to use the more visual tribute.
Dad and his sister Helen making their First Holy Communion
Dad’s faith was always the most important thing in his life. I so dearly miss praying with him in the morning. I keep his Rosary next to my bed. This past Good Friday I used it. Thank you, Dad.

Dad in his Army uniform
He bravely served our country in World II from age 19 to 21. People like Dad are the reason his generation is referred to as “The Greatest Generation”. He never intended to be a hero, but he was. Thank you, Dad.

Dad at work with a big smile on his face
He’s smiling because he loved providing and caring for his family. I don’t remember ever hearing him complain about going to work, no matter how tired or sick he was. Thank you, Dad.

Dad with his family celebrating my birthday in 2009
It was the last time that ever happened. He loved his family more than anything on this earth. We were truly blessed to have him as a part of our lives for as long as we did. I only wish it could have been longer. Thank you, Dad.
Oh, my Papa, to me he was so wonderful

Oh, my Papa, to me he was so good

No one could be, so gentle and so lovable

Oh, my Papa, he always understood.

Gone are the days when he could take me on his knee

And with a smile he'd change my tears to laughter.

Oh, my Papa, so funny, so adorable

Always the clown so funny in his way

Oh, my Papa, to me he was so wonderful

Deep in my heart I miss him so today.
Thank you, Dad.

Until next time…from the booth.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Survey Says!

I am currently dealing with a bout of tendinitis. This makes typing a bit unpleasant. Therefore today’s blog is one that I originally posted April 7, 2009. I chose this particular blog for two reasons. One, to pay homage to the recently deceased Richard Dawson. The other is to annoy Gary “The Wizard” Petersen. Hopefully the rest of you will enjoy it.

Being a longtime fan of the game show genre, I am a GSN junkie. GSN, aka the Game Show Network, is devoted to showing television programming in which people compete to win prizes. GSN provides a schedule of all-time great programs with a smattering of modern game shows tossed in. My preference lies with the vintage shows.

No offense to Catch 21, Chain Reaction or Lingo, the new shows that GSN offers just don’t measure up to the classics. Give me Let’s Make a Deal, Match Game or Password any day of the week, no questions asked.

For good measure the network also features classic episodes of games that are still producing new programs. Shows such as Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune fall into this category. Another example is Family Feud.

Family Feud has been on the air from 1976 to the present, with a three-year hiatus from 1985-1988 and a four-year respite from 1995-1999. During the roughly thirty-year period, the Feud has seen many configurations and no less than five different hosts.

As any good game show savant knows, the host makes the show. This was never more evident than with Family Feud. Through the years I have either loved this show or detested it based on the host at the time. Here is what my “Survey Says” about the five different emcees, ranked from worst to first.
5. Richard Karn, 2002-2006. Easily the weakest of all that have held the role of master of ceremonies. I could not stand Family Feud during the Karn era. You could make a drinking game based on the number of times Karn would utter the phrase, “That’s right.” I enjoyed him much better when he was saying, “I don’t think so, Tim!”

4. John O’Hurley, 2006-Present. Only slightly better than Karn. The gaudy, garish set doesn’t help matters. For some reason, the dashing O’Hurley seems to lack sincerity, like he is doing a bit. Maybe I it’s because I will always think of him as J. Peterman.
3. Louie Anderson, 1999-2002. Despite lacking the good looks typically associated with a game show host and possessing a somewhat annoying voice, I have always had a soft spot for Anderson. Rumor has it that he is responsible getting the prize money increased to $20,000 for the winning family.

2. Richard Dawson, 1976-1985, 1994-1995. The initial ringmaster of the Feud, Dawson had a strong television background. Besides being a regular on the greatest game show ever, Match Game, he also starred on rowan and Martin’s Laugh In and Hogan’s Heroes. Although some didn’t care for his constant kissing, it didn’t bother me as much as his persistent schmoozing. Be careful Richard, your ego is showing.

1. Ray Combs, 1988-1994. Number one on my survey, this self-effacing host was the antithesis of Dawson. The 5’8” Combs had no problem making fun of himself if it resulted in a laugh. And it often did. Don’t get me wrong, he could schmooze with the best of them, however, more often than not it was in a silly manner that couldn’t be taken seriously. On a more somber note, Combs tragically took his own life at age 40.

Despite Family Feud not being my all time favorite classic game show, Match Game holds that honor; it definitely ranks in my top five.

To further honor Richard Dawson and this iconic game show, I have incorporated both in my new poll question. Take a moment to vote for your favorite host of Family Feud. What are you waiting for? I keep telling you it don’t cost nuthin’.

Until next time…from the booth.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Band Of Angels?

On Thursday I posted a new poll – Which Recently Deceased Musician Do You Miss Most? There are eight choices - Donald “Duck” Dunn, Barry Gibb, Levon Helm, Whitney Houston, Etta James, Davy Jones, Donna Summer and Adam “MCA” Yauch. All of these performers left us this year. Shortly after the first votes were cast I learned that we had lost another popular musician earlier that day. Bob Welch, a former member of Fleetwood Mac who also had a solo career, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said. He was 65.

Whenever a famous musician passes on, you inevitably hear things like, “I bet there’s a helluva concert going on in Heaven!” or “Can you imagine the beautiful music being played in Heaven right now?”

Now, far be it from me to assume that upon dying, all musical performers  immediately go to Heaven and are jamming for God. A majority of these people have died tragically young for a reason. Whether it was poor life style choices or some other demon, way too many talented people have passed away far too early and have left a void in the music world.

That being said…

What if all of the deceased gifted musicians DID get together in the Great Hereafter? Would that be cool or what? The very thought of this boggles my mind.

Because this is so intriguing, I have decided to assemble a supergroup made up entirely of deceased rock ‘n’ roll VIPs. The only criteria are that the musician is someone is on my iPod and are, regrettably, deceased.

So, without further ado, let me introduce to you, Band of Angels?, my all-star, all-dead supergroup:

Keith Moon, The Who – Drums. Passed on at age 31.
John Bonham, Led Zeppelin – Drums. Passed on at age 32.
John Entwistle, The Who – Bass. Passed on at age 57.
John Lennon, The Beatles – Vocals, Guitar. Passed on at age 40.
George Harrison, The Beatles – Guitar, Vocals. Passed on at age 58.
Brian Jones, The Rolling Stones – Guitars. Passed on at age 27.
Jimi Hendrix – Guitar. Passed on at age 27.
Janis Joplin – Vocals. Passed on at age 27.
Jim Morrison, The Doors – Vocals. Passed on at age 28.
Freddie Mercury, Queen – Vocals. Passed on at age 45.

Sweet, huh?

Can you imagine a band with both Moon AND Bonham playing drums? Just envision this duo providing the percussion for Moby Dick, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, Wipeout, My Generation or Frankenstein. It’s insane!

Hendrix, Jones, Lennon and Harrison all playing guitar. Are you kidding me? What a lineup!

Hendrix was widely considered to be the greatest electric guitarist in music history. Jones’ main instruments were the guitar and the harmonica, but he played a wide variety of other musical instruments and was a talented multi-instrumentalist. As far as Lennon and Harrison go… They were Beatles for crying out loud!

Entwistle was nicknamed “Thunderfingers” with good reason. He was at his best when heard in concert, where he and guitarist Pete Townshend frequently exchanged roles, with Entwistle providing rapid melodic lines and Townshend anchoring the song with rhythmic chord work. I would love to see him doing the same with Hendrix.

The trio of vocalists that I have chosen for Band of Angels? is so diverse and talented, they could cover most any song written. And whatever Joplin, Morrison and Mercury needed a breather, Lennon and Harrison would fill in quite nicely. Hell, this band is so good I might even let Hendrix sing a song or two.


There you have it, my supergroup composed of deceased rock stars. And I do have something from each of them on my iPod; just some more than others. Here are the totals:

Moon and Entwistle (The Who) - 355 songs
Lennon and Harrison (The Beatles) - 71 songs
Mercury (Queen) – 61 songs
Jones (The Rolling Stones) – 50 songs
Bonham (Led Zeppelin) – 28 songs
Morrison (The Doors) – 18 songs
Joplin – 4 songs
Hendrix – 2 songs

Well, what can I say? I obviously like The Who more than Jimi Hendrix.

I know what comes next. It’s time for everyone to tell me whom I left out. Like Kurt Cobain. Hey, I don’t have any Nirvana on my iPod.

Rather than lambasting me about my omissions, I would be interested in hearing the supergroup you come up with made up of dead musicians. Let’s see what you got! Email me, put it on my facebook page or leave a comment here on the blog.

Don’t forget to jump on my poll and vote for which recently deceased musician you miss most. Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

It’s Over…

Politics aren’t my cup of tea. They never have been, but recently I find politics repulsive. In the past few years, politics has created an divisive atmosphere of hatred in our great country. Nowadays there always has to be a winner and a loser in everything.

With politics it is even worse.

There are only two sides, and whether you believe it or not, you’re on one side or the other. It’s black or white with no gray, no middle ground. Theoretically, someone always wins and someone always loses. Every time. It’s all about money and the power that goes along with it. And I can’t stand it.

Fortunately, as of last night, it’s over.

Finally the Wisconsin recall election is over with. Also, the GOP has decided upon their candidate in the upcoming Presidential election. This pleases me tremendously on oh so many levels.

First of all, this means an end to the seemingly endless “robo” and “opinion poll” phone calls that annoy me at all hours of the day.

It also means not having to sift through the abundance of fliers in the mail telling me why I should vote for their parties’ mouth piece.

I’m not going to miss the “generous” offers to sign up for absentee voting. They weren’t aware that I know political groups track who uses these forms and monitor which elections you vote in.

The lull in the political scene should greatly diminish the amount of people calling in and pontificating on local talk radio. Over the past few months I have been forced to repeatedly change the station when one of these “experts” call in. It’s amazing how smart someone becomes by watching Fox News or MSNBC.

Speaking of smarts, I am optimistic that the TV and radio ads that insult our intelligence will be on hiatus for a while. Politicians must think that nobody is capable of critical thinking anymore.

That being said, based on some of the moronic posts on facebook, the political types might be right. Maybe they know their target audience better then I give them credit for.

However, the absence of TV ads is what I shall appreciate the most.

No more serial adulterers preaching morality to us. Come on, do they really think people are stupid enough to believe their sermons? Well, do they?

No more having to hear someone that has filed bankruptcy four times and been divorced twice tell us “You know very well…” Here’s an idea, maybe we are fortunate enough not to “know” what you know. Or care.

The pause in the barrage of political TV advertisements will also benefit the candidates. These millionaires can take a break from acting like they are comfortable when wearing flannel shirts and blue jeans while spewing their empty promises to us. It had to just kill some of those guys.

This brief interlude from 24/7 politics should provide some relief from some of the hypocrisy.

Hopefully a politician that represents less government involvement won't be telling us who can get married to whom and what women can do with their own bodies. Evidently, politicians get to have it both ways.

God willing it will be another four years before we have to hear one politician endorse another when just weeks earlier they were calling them the worst candidate possible. I guess we are supposed to have short memories. Very short memories.

I am cautiously hopeful that I will never hear the term “Birther” used again. Ever. Who are those people kidding? Even when bigotry is wrapped in prayer, it’s still bigotry.

With any luck, this blog won’t cause too much of a commotion. That is the last thing I want to happen. That’s why I am not very fond of politics. All of the hating and labeling base is based solely on whether you’re liberal or conservative or if you are a Republican or a Democrat.

It doesn’t make any sense to me. That’s why I am so glad it’s over. Well, for the time being. Sometime in August it will all start up again with the fall primaries. Phony ads, empty promises, posturing, hate… Man, politics suck.

Until next time…from the booth.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Survey Says: R.I.P. Richard

Richard Dawson was born in Gosport, Hampshire, England on November 30, 1932. He passed away yesterday, June 2, 2012 at age 79 from esophageal cancer. Dawson was an English actor, comedian, game show panelist and host. He was best known for his role as Corporal Peter Newkirk on Hogan’s Heroes, being the original host of Family Feud, and for being a regular panelist on Match game from 1973 to 1978. His final film role was that of Damon Killian, host of “The Running Man” in the 1987 film of the same name.

Being a TV junkie all of my life, I have many fond memories of Dawson on the small screen. Dating back to 1963, he appeared in an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show as the dapper Brit entertainer “Racy Tracy” Rattigan.

His first real famous role in American TV was on Hogan’s Heroes. Although I wasn’t a big fan of the war-related sitcom, it was one of the highest-rated shows on television during its six-year run from 1965 to 1971.

When Hogan’s Heroes was cancelled, Dawson quickly became a regular on the popular Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In show, which ran from 1971 to 1973.  I loved Laugh-In. It was edgy, hilarious and you never knew what celebrity was going to pop up next. Besides, it had Goldie Hawn and Judy Carne in bikinis.

When Laugh-In went off the air in 1973, Dawson didn’t miss a beat and was signed as a regular on Match Game. Along with funnyman Charles Nelson Reilly, the acerbic Brett Somers and host Gene Rayburn, he made Match Game the greatest game show ever. Well, at least in my humble opinion.

Dawson was a huge reason for the show’s popularity. He was witty and a great player, providing the correct answers more than any other panelist. This made him very popular with the contestants when it came time for the “Head-to-Head Match” and “Super-Match” portions of the show.

In 1975, Match Game producer and game show pioneer, Mark Goodson hired Dawson to host Family Feud, which debuted on July 12, 1976. The Feud was a big hit and in late 1977 it surpassed Match Game in the ratings. In 1978, the same year he left Match Game, Dawson won an Emmy for Best Game Show Host for his work on Family Feud.

His legendary trademark of kissing all the female contestants, earned Dawson the nickname “The Kissing Bandit”. While some people didn’t care for the seemingly constant kissing, it didn’t bother me. It was no worse than his persistent schmoozing. It was all part of his charming persona.

Dawson claimed that the reason he kissed the female contestants was for love and luck; it was something his mother did with him as a child. However on April 6,1981 one of those kisses must have been something special.

On that particular day, the Johnson family appeared on Family Feud. That is when Dawson, then age 48, met 27-year old Gretchen Johnson. The rest is, as they say, history. They had a daughter in 1990 and were married in 1991.

I saw a clip from that noteworthy episode. When Gretchen played Fast Money at the end of the show, Dawson had his arm around her the entire time and held her very close. You could sense a spark. They remained married until his death.

There was one rather eerie fact that I uncovered while researching this blog. Dawson’s death came 16 years to the day that his successor on Family Feud, Ray Combs committed suicide. Kind of unsettling.

I have always been a fan of Richard Dawson. This is evidenced in that he has been featured in several of my blogs over the years. Check out Fill In The Blank, Diversity Is Everywhere and Survey Says when you get the chance.

This final survey says: Rest in peace, Richard Dawson, you will be missed.

Until next time…from the booth.