Thursday, August 30, 2012

I Got Some ‘Splaining To Do

Me circa 1990
In my last three blogs, “So Sad”, “So Happy” and “One More”, I wrote about one of the most wonderful weeks of my life. I chronicled those five remarkable days in Oshkosh at the Pioneer Inn during the summer of 1990. In that trio of blogs, I related many of the experiences that made it such a special time. However, I never made it clear what exactly made them so memorable. You might think you know why, but there is much more to it.

I guess I got some ‘splaining to do.

In the time leading up to Oshkosh, I had gone through a rather monumental personal metamorphism. Not only had I been promoted to Human Resource Director at Koos Inc., but I had also lost some weight. A considerable amount of weight. A whole lot of weight. Without getting into exact numbers, let’s just say that I was half the man I used to be. Literally.

It was a gradual process, taking over a year before accomplishing this tremendous physical feat. By the time I made that trip to Oshkosh, I was the lightest I ever was since junior high school.

Reminiscing, it was sort of surreal. My appearance was totally different. People that I hadn’t seen for awhile didn’t recognize me. It was amazing being able to buy clothes off the rack at “normal” stores. I even wore shorts in public.

This was all fantastic. I definitely enjoyed being “normal” and all of the perks that went along with it. The numerous compliments that I received were appreciated but unnecessary.

The thing is, in my mind, I was still Paul the jolly fat guy.

Perhaps because I never mentally morphed from Paul the jolly fat guy, I never accepted the whole concept of being “normal”. No matter what the package on the outside looked like, the inside hadn’t changed. I was still Paul the jolly fat guy, not some “normal” guy.

That is the reason the week in Oshkosh was so exceptional. These were people that never knew Paul the jolly fat guy. They had never met me before and yet they liked me. They really liked me!

Don’t get me wrong; even before I became a “normal” guy, I had no problem meeting and socializing with others. After all, I was a jolly fat guy.

But it was always on my terms. I had to initiate the interaction; I had to be in control of the circumstance. It was my defense mechanism. There was an unmistakable need to be sure the situation was comfortable. I needed to be prepared for anything that might happen.

The lack of being in control is what made the Oshkosh event so unforgettable. I was completely unprepared for total strangers to be friendly and to spark relationships with me.

The icing on the cake was when the ladies asked me to dance with them in the nightclub. Women weren’t supposed to be attracted to me. I was Paul the jolly fat guy. I never saw this coming and was totally flummoxed. Things like this weren’t supposed to happen to me.

But they did. And that is why those five days in Oshkosh at the Pioneer Inn during the summer of 1990 were a such remarkable period in my life.

Over the years I have transformed back to Paul the jolly fat guy, both physically and mentally. Looking back, I never quit being Paul the jolly fat guy. Not even when I was “normal”. I will never forget Oshkosh. It will always be special.

I hope that now you understand, because I’m done ‘splaining. This was originally posted August 5, 2011. Until next time…from the booth.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

One More

In my last blog I mentioned that I might be able to come up with one more story from my experiences at the Pioneer Inn. In the last few installments of From The Booth, I have been gushing about the fabulous week that I spent in Oshkosh back in 1990. In “So Happy”, I wrote about the wonderful people that I had met and the incredible party we had on the last night there.

As great as that party was, it wasn’t the only fond memory from that week. There was something else that comes to mind that provides me with one more story.

If you recall, the first classmate that I met at the Human Resource seminar was my “next door neighbor”, John. He had the room next to mine and came knocking on my door minutes after I arrived. Given the proximity of our living quarters, John and I got to know each quite well and usually ate lunch together at the resort’s outstanding restaurant.

John lived in Milwaukee, commuted to Madison daily for his job and had just recently gotten married. I knew this because he often excused himself to call his bride. I recall one afternoon when he bolted out of the conference room the moment class ended. As he rushed down the hall, he looked over his shoulder, smiled at me and shouted, “The wife drove up for a visit!” He was young and in love.

I may have neglected to tell you one other noteworthy thing about John. He was black and now that I think of it, I would imagine that he still is. To me, the color of a person’s skin is irrelevant. However, for this particular story it does have significance. Trust me, you will see.

Typically, our class was from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm with an hour off for lunch. Except for Wednesday, that was our short day. After an early lunch, we were free for the rest of the day.

It seemed like everyone had plans on how to spend their free time. Many of the ladies had planned to go shopping at the huge outlet mall located in Oshkosh, while others were going to enjoy Lake Winnebago.

Since the Green Bay Packer training camp was in full swing, I had decided to go watch the team practice. I asked the people seated near me in the restaurant if any of them were interested in joining me.

They all politely declined, except for John. He quietly said that he would like to go with. I told him, “Cool, let’s go” and got up from the table.

As we were walking toward the parking lot, John asked me if I was really okay with him coming along. Somewhat perplexed, I reassured him with a loud, “Why wouldn’t I be?” and we were on our way. The 50-mile trip on Highway 41 went by quickly and we arrived in Titletown less than an hour later.

Practice hadn’t started yet, so I chose to drive around Lambeau Field to give John a tour of the venerable stadium, driving slowly through the large parking lot.

As I carefully maneuvered my bulky silver-gray Dodge Ramcharger through the multitude of Packer fans that were milling about, some began approaching us. John’s eyes widened when the fans started waving at us and slapping the hood of my SUV.

When I noticed the Packer players were riding bikes and making their way from Lambeau Field to the practice fields across the street, I decided to get a parking space and find a spot for us to sit.

While walking to the portable bleachers, fans continued to wave at the two of us, many cheerfully shouting hello. When we finally sat down, John had a twinkle in his eye and said, “Man, the people up here sure are nice. Thanks!” I smiled and told him it was no problem.

A heartwarming story, don’t you think? Let me reveal the humorous wrinkle to this tale.

Remember that I said it was noteworthy that John was black? Well, not only was he black, but he was also tall, good-looking and put together well. In fact, he played varsity tennis in college. He had an athletic look about him.

Now factor into the equation that we were in Green Bay, Wisconsin in the year 1990. At that time, there were very few blacks in Green Bay that weren’t playing for the Packers or a part of their organization. Especially young, athletic-looking black males.

John was a young, athletic-looking black man at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin and training camp was going on. He just had to be a Packer! At least that’s what those fans thought on that warm summer day in 1990.

I am pretty sure that’s why they were so hospitable to John; they thought he played for the Packers. But the thing is, if they actually knew John, they would have been just as nice to him even though he wasn’t a Packer. I know that I’m glad that he spent the afternoon with me.

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This blog was originally posted July 30, 2011. The final chapter of this saga will be posted on Thursday.

Until next time…from the booth

Sunday, August 26, 2012

So Happy

Okay, the sadness I was experiencing previously has finally ebbed enough for me to make good on my promise to do a blog about more joyous times. If you recall, at the end of “So Sad”, I pledged to let you know why my stay at the Pioneer Inn was so memorable. I also said that it would be a joy reliving those glorious moments, and it will be. That week was unquestionably one of the most wonderful periods of my life.

It made me happy. So happy.

This glorious span of five-plus days revolved around a Human Resource seminar in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and took place the summer of 1990. The setting was the rustic Pioneer Inn resort, nestled on sparkling Lake Winnebago.

This resplendent lodge featured 182 beautiful guest rooms, 10 suites and complete conference and retreat facilities. An award-winning restaurant overlooking the lake was available for your dining pleasure.

Other amenities included a nightclub, an indoor/outdoor pool, whirlpool, a fitness room and a game room. Available outside was a sizable marina, watercraft rentals, a bike/walking path, volleyball courts and a miniature golf course.

This place had it all and it made me happy. So happy.

When I checked in early Sunday evening. I had barely put my luggage away before there was a knock on my door. My “next door neighbor”, John, had seen me entering my room and figured that I might be there for the same reason. He was right; we were both attending the same seminar.

The next morning I met the rest of the group that were there for the training session. The group was comprised of 20 individuals from different parts of Wisconsin. Besides John and myself, there were only two other males. That’s right, 16 women and 4 men. If my Tremper High School math serves me correctly, that’s a 4-to-1 ratio.

Are you beginning to see why I was happy? So happy.

The seminar incorporated many interactive projects that included a great deal of role-playing. This provided an excellent way to get to know the others. For some reason, the more boisterous individuals seemed to gravitate toward me. It didn’t take long before I realized that this was going to be fun. And this was just the seminar.

For the most part, the schedule was class from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm with an hour off for lunch in the marvelous resort restaurant. That left plenty of time to enjoy the many features offered at the Pioneer Inn and to explore Oshkosh. I also continued to become more acquainted with my new classmates.

Typically, the day would end with a number of us meeting in the nightclub for a drink. At first, we would only discuss the seminar. But once we had become more familiar with each other, we started joking around, telling stories and having some laughs.

The second night that our group assembled in the lounge, we noticed a poster promoting a musical group that would be appearing beginning Thursday evening. That being our last night together, we immediately decided that we would make that our going away party. We agreed to try to get as many people from our seminar to attend.

This was going to be a blast. I was happy. So happy.

When Thursday arrived, it was bittersweet. Sure, there was the get-together at the nightclub, complete with a live band, but it was a farewell party. More than likely, the next morning would be the last time that I would ever see these people.

Fortunately something happened to take my mind off of this fact. Someone had noticed a sign advertising one-dollar margaritas at the pub just up the road from the Pioneer Inn. There was going to be a pre-party party! There was no doubt that this would only add to the merriment.

At 5 o’clock sharp a gregarious group of twelve started the two-block trek to quench its collective thirst. Unfortunately we were greeted with some disappointing news. Evidently the margarita special was on Wednesday night. We were crestfallen.

Our frowns were quickly turned upside when the barkeep informed us that Thursday’s special was 10-cent beer. That’s right, beer was only a dime a glass. It almost made me wish that I had not quit drinking. I could have done some serious damage to my liver at that price, but I thought better of it.

Needless to say our merry band of human resource types was adequately lubricated when it was time to head back to the Pioneer Inn for the real party. That short hike was chock-full of staggering, weaving and hilarity.

It’s safe to say that I was happy. So happy.

When we finally made it back to the nightclub, we were greeted by four more of our classmates and a Prince tribute band. Not exactly my favorite type of music, but hey, the place was jumping and I was enjoying my company. I was having a great time.

Then it happened. One of the ladies from our group asked me to dance with her. After getting over the initial shock, I politely explained that I wasn’t comfortable dancing, especially to a song that fast. Smiling, she grumbled something about not being done with me. Relieved, I went back to my diet Coke and continued telling jokes.

A bit later, the band was playing a slow ballad. Suddenly I was jerked from my seat by another one of my female classmates and dragged by my hand onto the dance floor. Hey, I was a lot smaller in 1990. But that’s a story for another day and another blog.

I had barely started to enjoy the slow dance when the lady who had first asked me to dance abruptly grabbed my shoulder, pulling me away. She blurted out, “He’s mine.” She then added, “I thought you didn’t dance?” and led me away. Sheepishly I shrugged my shoulders and went with my new dance partner.

The remainder of the evening was a blur. I had never received so much attention from peoples that I hardly new. And they were of the opposite sex no less! I couldn’t believe what was happening.

The Friday morning session was short and sweet. We traded goodbyes and awkward smiles while exchanging business cards and phone numbers. Deep down I knew that I would never hear from these lovely people again; much less see any of them.

And I was right. Oh, I might have received a card from one of the ladies, but never again did I see anyone from that incredible week at the Pioneer Inn. They are all just memories. Magnificent and fantastic memories.

That’s why I’m still happy. So happy.

Believe it or not, I might be able to pull one last story from my experiences at the memorable Pioneer Inn. We shall see.

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This blog was originally posted July 25, 2011. Part three will be posted on Tuesday.

Until next time…from the booth.

Friday, August 24, 2012

So Sad

Pioneer Inn Oshkosh, WI
The current heat wave has caused me to be sad. So sad. No, it’s not because of the scorching temperatures or the oppressive dew points. It’s not even the 105° heat index we experienced today. While I personally do not enjoy any of those things, they are not the reason for my present state of unhappiness. But rest assure that the current heat wave has definitely caused me to be sad. So sad.

This hot spell that we are mired in brought about this sense of melancholy a couple of nights ago. As can be expected, the local TV news reports have been jam-packed with stories about air conditioners, beaches and ice cubes.

All I wanted to see was the forecast. I wanted to know how long this was supposed to last. Where was Brian Gotter when you needed him?

Finally my favorite weatherman was on and magically all of his fancy visuals appeared. At one point Gotter was standing in front of a map of Wisconsin while he mentioned the current temperature in Oshkosh.

That’s when it all started.

Oshkosh! I love Oshkosh! After all, the Pioneer Inn was in Oshkosh! One of the most memorable weeks of my entire life took place at the Pioneer Inn. Those were undoubtedly five of the happiest days of my life.

You are probably wondering why I’m so sad if Oshkosh brings back such pleasant memories. I shall get to that, but first a little background is required.

Prior to that glorious week in Oshkosh, I had been promoted to the newly created position of Human Resource Director at Koos Inc. That’s right; Koos, Inc. never had anyone in that position before 1990. I know, I know, but keep in mind that we are talking about Koos Inc.

Since I was new to the position, the company felt that it would be beneficial for me to attend a seminar concerning the intricacies of Human Resources. That is where Oshkosh and the Pioneer Inn entered into the equation because that is where the seminar took place.

So, on a lovely Sunday afternoon in the summer of 1990, I aimed my Dodge Ramcharger north on Highway 41, not really knowing what to expect. 2½ hours and 120 miles later I arrived at the Pioneer Inn resort located on sparkling Lake Winnebago.

The time between Sunday evening when I arrived and Friday afternoon when I left were chock-full of wonderful memories. I believe that I was smiling the entire time I was there. Just thinking about it, I am smiling right now.

Then why am I also so sad?

On that fateful night, when I was reminded of Oshkosh, I immediately did a search on my computer for the Pioneer Inn. I needed another glimpse, a reminder of that splendid week. It would be like looking up an old friend.

Unfortunately, what I found is the reason that I am downhearted. The Pioneer Inn is no longer with us. That enchanting 180-room resort located on Lake Winnebago in Oshkosh, Wisconsin no longer exists. It is gone.

When I searched “Pioneer Inn Oshkosh”, I got a response from titled, “Why is the Pioneer Inn closed?” What I saw next caused my heart to drop.

There were 29 replies, a few explanations mixed in with many notes of disbelief. This comment summed things up the best:
“Unbelievable: I cannot believe this beautiful property is not being used. At the very least they should open up the restaurant. This is a crime and the guy that bought this property should be put in jail.
Long story short. The owners and the DNR got into a big disagreement and a lot of legal red tape regarding public as opposed to private land usage on the proposed site of the hotel/condo.

The resort was open in the summer of 2005, sans hotel. Just the restaurant and banquet facilities. Since then, everything has been closed except for the marina, which, quite frankly, is going straight down the crapper.

As a former employee, I am extremely saddened by the constant push and shove match the owners and DNR cannot seem to get over. Call it what you want to call it, back it up with mounds of paperwork and land agreements, but it is what it is...

A bunch of 4 year olds fighting the old “I will not”, “you will too"” game on the school playground.

Shame on you all.”

It took Brian Gotter’s weather map to make me aware that this once-magnificent institution is no longer around. This resort that was the hub for what was the most outstanding 5-day period of my life now ceases to be.

I am sad. So sad.

That is enough mourning for my old friend, the Pioneer Inn. In an upcoming blog I promise to let you know why my stay there was so unforgettable. After all this gloominess, it’s the least I can do. Besides, it will be a joy reliving those glorious moments.

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This blog was originally posted July 20, 2011. Part two will be posted on Sunday.

Until next time…from the booth.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What’s Happening!!

Sorry if the title and the accompanying graphic were deceiving and got your hopes up, but this blog is not about Rerun, Raj, Dwayne and Shirley. While it might be fun to write about that iconic sitcom that ran from 1976 to 1979, I did not go in that direction. In this case, the title refers to the status of this blog. Don’t panic, it’s not going away any time soon. However, you might notice a few subtle changes taking place over the next few months. That’s why I wanted to let you know “What’s Happening!!”

As some of you may know, I have decided to write another book. It will be a follow up to my first book, “Some Kenosha Softball”. This book will be titled “More Kenosha Softball”. Pretty clever, eh? See, I’m not just another pretty face.

I have been in discussion with my publisher, Britton Road Press and I am quite enthusiastic about the project. Softball luminaries Gary “Wizard” Petersen, Pat Hegewald, Ernie Pascucci, Dr. Jim Fulmer, Glenn “Rock” Evenson, Jerry Ruffolo, Paul Pulera, Craig Stewart, Cindy Herr and Rick Flocker have agreed to provide information and memories.

Those ten VIP contributors are just the tip of the iceberg; more are being added almost daily. With the rapid rate that MKS is progressing, I am spending a significant bit of time on it. Because of this I will be spending less time on this blog.

I still plan on posting something a couple times a week, but they will occasionally be a “best of” type of thing. Let me know if there are any in particular that you would like to see again. I might post the Burger King trilogy starting this weekend.

Speaking of trilogies, please rest assure that the Official Survivor Recap Trilogy will make its triumphant return on September 19. Jamie and Mary Beth are back on board and are chomping at the bit for season 25 of the greatest reality show of all time to begin.

There will still be regular updates with the Poll Questions and Boobs of the Week. I will do as much as I can with the blog, but my main concentration has to be on my book.

One last thing on the topic of books. “Some Kenosha Softball” is still available at the Kenosha History Center, 220 51st Street and Sister Act Painting and Creative Treasures, 3816 Roosevelt Road.

Sister Act will be the place to be this weekend. In addition to their regular hours on Saturday, they will be open from 11 am to 2 pm on Sunday to accommodate the Kenosha Cash Mob. It promises to be a wild scene with all kinds of sales and excitement.

Kenosha Cash Mob started in January. The group recognizes and supports locally owned businesses that give back to the community and turns it into a fun social event. Mob members pledge to spend at least $20 at these events. Each mobbing is followed by a visit to a watering hole near the business chosen that was mobbed.

The owner of Sister Act, Sharon Buege definitely qualifies as someone that gives back to the community. And I’m not just saying that because she has been my good friend for over 35 years, she deserves your patronage.

So, that’s what’s happening!! Go over to Sister Act, buy some stuff, a book and tell Sharon I sent you!

Until next time…from the booth.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

M*A*S*H, Cheers and Survivor

My past two or three blogs have been of the editorial variety. Most of the time my blogs aren’t overly opinionated, but every once in a while I feel the need to spout off about something. That is not the case with this blog. Tonight as I switch back and forth between Packer touchdowns and Brewer home runs, I have decided to write about one of my favorite things – TV. The title probably gave it away, didn’t it? M*A*S*H and Cheers will be featured in a series of five poll questions and I will give a brief preview for Survivor: Philippines.

M*A*S*H premiered on September 17, 1972 and ended February 28, 1983. At the time, the finale was the most watched television episode in U.S. television history.

The show centered on the key personnel in a U. S. Army Mobile Army Surgical (MASH) during the Korea War. The unique ensemble of characters included: “Hawkeye”, “Hot Lips”, Klinger, Father Mulcahy, “Trapper”, Colonel Blake, Frank Burns, “Radar”, B.J., Colonel Potter and Charles Winchester.

The poll questions are quite simple:

#1 – Which Colonel did you like better, Blake or Potter?
#2 – Who did you like better, “Trapper” or B.J.?
#3 – Who did you like better, Frank Burns or Charles Winchester?

Cheers was a sitcom that ran for 11 seasons from 1982 to 1993. The show was set in Boston, Massachusetts, where a group of locals meet to drink, relax, enjoy each other’s company and have fun.

Like M*A*S*H, Cheers had an eccentric troupe of individuals that would entertain us each week. The main characters were: Sam, Diane, Rebecca, “Coach”, Carla, Cliff, “Woody”, Fraiser, Lilith and Norm.

The poll questions have the same theme as the earlier ones:

#1 – Who did you like better, “Coach” or “Woody”?
#2 – Who did you like better, Diane or Rebecca?

Please take a minute to vote on all five of the poll questions. They are located just to the right of this blog. Don’t cost nuthin’…

CBS will premiere “Survivor: Philippines” on Wednesday, September 19 with a special 90-minute episode. This marks the 25th season of the award-winning reality show. I was able to scrounge up the following information from a site called Survivor Fever.

The Kalabaw (Water Buffalo) Tribe looks like this:

Jonathan Penner is a 50 year old actor who was previously on Survivor: Cook Islands and Survivor: Micronesia.

Dana Lambert is a 32-year-old hairstylist.

Jeff Kent is a 44-year-old former Major League Baseball player who played with the Mets, Blue Jays, Indians, Giants, Astros and Dodgers.

Katie Hanson is a 20-year-old student at University of Delaware. She was Miss Delaware USA 2011.

Carter Williams is a 21-year-old student who is very religious.

Sarah Naomi “Dawson” has no other info available yet other than that she was born in Philadelphia.

Here is the Matsing (Monkey) Tribe:

Russell Swan is a 45-year-old attorney that was previously on Survivor: Samoa.

Angela Layton is a 20-year-old model that was the third runner up Miss Teen USA 2010.

Malcolm Freberg is a 26-year-old student at Dartmouth. The economics major sports flowing locks and six-pack abs.

Zane Knight is a 28-year-old tattoo artist that smokes heavily.

Denise Marie Stapely is a 41-year-old counselor that specializes in mental health.

Roxanne Ronelle Sara is a 27-year-old 2nd Lieutenant Chaplain Candidate for the U.S. Army.

This is the Tandang (Rooster) Tribe:

Mike Skupin is a 50-year-old self-employed father of seven. He was on Survivor: Australia Outback until he fell into the campfire.

Lisa Whelchel is a 49 year old actress best known as Blair in the 80s sitcom “The Facts of Life”.

Abi Maria Gomes is a 32-year-old Brazilian who is the owner and co-founder of Xi Acai.

Peter Yurkowski is a 23-year-old engineering management student who models at Wilhelmina Models.

Roberta Saint-Amour is a 27-year-old investment banker from New York City.

Artis Sylvester Lewis is a 53-year-old government employee who bears a striking resemblance to Philip Shepard. Sheppard was best known as “Special Agent” and for his pink undergarments.

It’s not a whole lot, but it gives you something to look forward to. I will post more details as they become available. That’s it for now. The Packers haven’t scored another touchdown and the Brewers are homerless since the first inning. Oh well.

Until next time…from the booth.

Monday, August 13, 2012

I Am What I Am

On the eve of tomorrow’s Wisconsin primary election, I have an urge to get political. I know, I usually eschew politics, but with friends that are passionate about governmental affairs, it is hard to avoid - especially on facebook. Usually, I ignore the political postings, but against my better judgment, I shall reveal a bit about myself politically. 

Before I start, full disclosure: I believe in God and an after-life, I’m just not sure what it will be like. I should also let you know that I’m not a millionaire. Hell, I’m barely a thousandaire.

I am what I am.

While I understand that people have the right to own guns, I don’t like guns. Wait; let me rephrase that, I HATE guns. I also think people who believe that conceal carry would have prevented or even minimized the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado are fooling themselves. Wait, again let me rephrase that. They are FOOLS.

Personally, I don’t believe in abortion, especially when used as an after the fact, convenient form of birth control between two consenting adults. That being said, I do feel there are extreme circumstances when it may be necessary. I definitely don’t feel the government should be able to tell a woman when it is appropriate.

I have never had Chick-fil-A and do not intend to anytime soon. I also don’t want people who do enjoy Chick-fil-A to get cancer. I don’t want anyone to get cancer, not even Jerry Sandusky. However, the recent Dan Cathy situation should serve as a reminder to everyone that the words you use have consequences.

More full disclosure: I like women and when I think of marriage, it is between a man and a woman. Despite that, I have no problem if two people of the same sex love each other and want to be together. It really doesn’t matter to me. Whether it right or wrong is not for me to judge. I believe in the separation of Church and state.

Wow, I’m trying to think of more to “reveal” about my political tendencies, but I am at a loss. I know that I am not looking forward to the next two or three months. Some people seem to thrive on this crap, I don’t. In fact, I dread it.

 What’s there to like?

There is a seemingly endless amount of advertisements running nonstop on both television and radio. They all feature millionaires trying to blow smoke up your ass. These bald-faced lies are designed to make us believe they care about us commoners and actually identify with us. If that doesn’t work, they resort to scare tactics. Terrified people do stupid things and politicians know that. They count on that.

Another negative about these ├╝ber-political times is the effect they have on talk radio. Everyone is vehement about their parties’ viewpoint and the show hosts will stoop to any tactic necessary to whip their callers into an impassioned frenzy. Unfortunately, more often than not, what you get is a bunch of blathering idiots spewing hate at those who don’t agree with them.

The last drawback is being inundated with a multitude of annoying robo-calls. Some try to hide under the guise of being a survey, but they don’t fool me. I’m not an idiot. Yesterday, more than thirteen weeks before the Presidential election, I received three robo-calls. One was from Ted Nugent on behalf of the NRA. Isn’t there a county fair he could be playing at?

Wow, just as I typed that last paragraph, I received a robo-call from Tommy Thompson. I wonder if he was wearing his Harley jacket? I think this is a sign that this political stuff isn’t my cup of tea. That’s it. I’ve had enough. No more politics for me. They nauseate me.

I guess I am what I am.

Let’s see what’s on TV. Maybe the Addams Family is on one of the oldie stations. I always enjoyed them better than the Munsters. I never liked the Munsters, especially Eddie. He was always a sneaky little brat.

Until next time…from the booth.

Friday, August 10, 2012

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Take a good look at the picture directly above. Bill Siel of the Kenosha News took it and it appeared in this past Wednesday’s paper. It shows Bradford players walking to football practice past a sign commemorating last year’s WIAA Division-1 state championship team. It lists Bradford’s sixteen conference championships, as well as their nine playoff performances. The school on the north side of town is obviously quite proud of their accomplishments and deservedly so.

So, what’s wrong with this picture?

The quote in the middle of the sign – “The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war” immediately jumped out at me when I saw the photo. I read it several times to make sure I wasn’t mistaken.

After making sure I had read it correctly, I shook my head and said, “Wow.”

The genesis of the quote is from a Chines proverb. I have seen it credited to both Sun Tzu and Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit. Whichever of the two gets the credit; it is usually associated with a war. A real war. Like World War II, Korea, Viet Nam or Afghanistan.

Not high school football.

Evidently, someone from Bradford thought differently and felt it was appropriate to use it to inspire teenage boys playing football after school.

I carefully read the article by Mike Larsen that accompanied the picture to see if the words “soldier”, “warriors” or “battle” showed up in it. They did not.

First year head coach, Jim Camerota, showed little, if any, braggadocio and was somewhat cautious in his comments. Quotes like, “We’re going to work as hard as we can and accomplish as much as we can” and “We’ve got some shorter and intermediate goals we have to accomplish playing some of the tougher teams along the way” was about as bold as Camerota got in the write-up.

Whoever is responsible for plastering that quote across that otherwise wonderful sign should be ashamed. Equating preparation for war to football practice isn’t my idea of incentive. Not only is it a poor concept for motivation, it sends the wrong message to those kids.

Even worse, it does a great injustice to the young men and women who actually serve and protect our great country. The ones in a real war.

I spoke to a good friend of mine about what he thought about this. He was even more vehement about how wrong this message was. His son played football at Bradford.

He also served in Iraq.

I have watched a football game with my friend while his son played. We laughed, joked around and cheered for his son and the Bradford team. It was a good time.

It wasn’t such a good time when his boy was over in Iraq. There was very little laughing or joking and absolutely no cheering. When I would ask how his son was doing, it was usually “Okay” or “Not bad”, followed by, “I wish they would end that fucking war.”

I never once heard my friend wish they would end one of his son’s football games.

This soldier must not have sweat enough in peace.
I have to say it again. Whoever at Bradford is responsible for that quote being on that sign should be ashamed. It’s stuff like this that evolves into NFL coaches awarding bullets to players for big hits and putting up bounties as inspiration to injure their opponents.

Maybe I have lost my mythological Neanderthal gene, because that garbage does nothing for me anymore. And I’m glad it doesn’t.

A decorated veteran of World II, a man who has my everlasting respect, once told me something I will never forget. He told me that the people who talk about war all the time never fought in one. Thanks, Dad. I get it.

Until next time…from the booth.

Monday, August 6, 2012

No More Idiots. Please.

Typically my blogs aren’t overly opinionated. Most of the time I am telling stories about Koos Inc., the 400 Club or writing about sports. Oh, ya, and Survivor. The Trilogy returns September 19th. All in all, I try to entertain people. I want them to laugh.

Tonight I don’t feel much like laughing.

A couple of weeks ago I almost wrote a blog that was going to be titled, “People Are Stupid”. I planned on explaining the difference between being ignorant and being stupid. Somehow I talked myself out of writing that one. Instead I wrote about being positive.

Not tonight.

I’m not going to write about stupid people. I’m not going to write about ignorant people. No, tonight I have decided to write about idiots.

There are many idiots out there. They are rammed down our throats on a daily basis. Talk radio, Facebook and Twitter are three prime sources that provide an almost constant reminder of the existence of idiots.

Sometimes, if you are a big enough idiot, you make my Boobs of the Week list. Like comedian Roseanne Barr who decided to post on Twitter that people who choose to eat at Chick-fil-A deserve cancer. She didn’t word it quite so nicely.

No matter what your stance is on the whole Dan Cathy fiasco, you don’t wish cancer on anyone. Unless you’re an idiot.

Another idiot that made my Boob list is Rick Santorum, recent contender for the Republican nomination for President. He decided to come to the defense of Penn State after the extremely damaging Freeh report decimated the university’s reputation.

Maybe I’m crazy, but coming to the defense of an institution that chose to protect a child rapist for more than a decade sounds like a bad idea. It sounds like something only an idiot would do.

Not all idiots are celebrities or politicians. Normal, everyday people are idiots and don’t even realize it. That’s probably why they are idiots. Don’t be alarmed, we have all been an idiot at one time or another. But, given the chance, people have to stop being idiots.

No more idiots. Please.

The first step to prevent continuing to be an idiot is doing a little critical thinking. Start questioning what you read and hear. Determine whether something is completely true, partially true or total bullshit.

A good example where a little critical thinking would help is the current race between the four Republican candidates for Wisconsin’s open U.S. Senate seat. The ads have gotten quite contentious and a bit nasty.

Tommy Thompson ran a radio ad a couple of weeks ago questioning Eric Hovde’s conservative credentials because the hedge fund manager and community banker gave a donation to former Democratic Governor Jim Doyle.

The ad accuses Hovde of making a $500 contribution to Doyle’s 2005 campaign “against Scott Walker” prior to the 2006 Wisconsin gubernatorial election.

The only thing is, Scott Walker wasn’t even running against Jim Doyle in that race. On November 7, 2006, Doyle, the incumbent defeated Republican Congressman Mark Green. Oops.

if you don’t believe me, look it up. That’s what I did when I heard the ad. Thompson’s camp has since modified it. Don’t assume everything you hear or see is true. Don’t be an idiot. 

Another current ad comes to mind. Does anyone really believe that Mark Neumann’s three-year-old grandson, Charlie, actually said, “Grandpa, tell them to stop spending my money.” Now, I know Charlie is a little rascal, but come on. Really? I choose not to believe it. I don’t want to be an idiot.

Earlier, I mentioned that talk radio as a breeding ground for idiots. It’s true, they are all over the place. And sometimes the hosts are as bad as the callers.

About a month ago, on a local talk radio show, one of the regular hosts had the night off, so someone else from the station sat in. Normally when this guy fills in, I don’t bother to listen. He has a voice that sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard and he thinks he is a whole lot smarter than he is.

For whatever reason, I didn’t turn the radio off this particular time. My mistake.

After thirty minutes of railing about the cost of recall elections, they changed the subject to road projects being done around the city. The two of them questioned if the citizens of Kenosha had been consulted on whether or not they wanted any of this work done.

They finally came to the brilliant conclusion that from now on, before any project is started, there should be a referendum. Honestly, that’s what they said. Maybe they think referendums are free. Nope, I know they are not. I’m not an idiot. I guarantee that neither of those hosts knows who their alderman is.

Speaking of local radio, this gem was posted on Lenny Palmer’s Facebook wall yesterday, shortly after the tragedy in Oak Creek:

“Hey Lenny did you hear about the hostage situation in Oak Creek? Man, a tactical take down!!! I would give my left nut to be in on that!!! Check it out!”

Idiots that make statements like that infuriate me and make me sad all at the same time. They have the potential of becoming the next James Holmes or Wade Michael Page.

When someone tells me that guns don’t kill people, I don’t believe them. I know they do. Especially the automatic and semi-automatic types. That’s what they are made for. Killing. And why would someone need an assault weapon? Why?

Listen, I’m not trying to tell you which way to lean. No matter what side of the fence you are on, do yourself a favor and do some critical thinking before you believe something. We can’t just think with only our hearts, we need to use our heads as well.

No more idiots. Please.

Until next time… from the booth.

Friday, August 3, 2012

What’ll You Have?

In 1975 it was legal to purchase and consume alcohol at the age of 18 in the state of Wisconsin. And that’s exactly what I did, usually in the form of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Lots and lots of Pabst Blue Ribbon. The truth be told, I was consuming alcoholic beverages before the legal age of 18. Today’s blog deals with the warm summer of 1975 and involves the infamous Arno Schubert.

Arno first graced this blog in “My First Labor Day”. After that he also showed up in “Arno: A Koos Legend”, “A Koos Christmas Story”, “A Special Secret Weapon” and “Attack Of The Chainsaw”. If you haven’t read these entertaining blogs, I encourage you to take the time to do so. They will help you to appreciate the enigmatic man named Arno.

Let’s get back to the summer of 1975.

I had been working at Koos Inc. for a couple of months when I finally felt comfortable enough to tell my co-workers where I lived. Keep in mind, this was the first time I was exposed to wild characters like Virgil Tucker, Ziggy Gutowski and of course, Arno Schubert. So, you can understand my reluctance in revealing such personal information.

When I first mentioned that I lived off of Highway C in Pleasant Prairie, just down the road from the Nobby Lobby tavern, my worst fears were realized. The words had barely left my lips before Danny Fliess blurted out, “No shit Puddles. Arno lives right by you!”

Great, I thought to myself, that’s all I need. And I was right. As soon as that crusty old German discovered where I lived, he was hitting me up for a ride home. So, for the rest of that summer I gave that foul-mouthed curmudgeon a lift home. Each and every miserable night.

At first, the 15-minute trips were fairly uneventful. A typical drive home consisted of me continually turning the volume of the radio up in an attempt to drown out Arno’s incessant cursing. I’m not sure if he ever even noticed.

Then it happened. After a particularly hot day, Arno climbed into my car and announced that he was going to start compensating me for giving him a ride home. I am quite sure he didn’t use the word compensate, but you get the idea.

All right! I wondered just how much he was going to give me. Five bucks would be nice. Ten would be even better. Well, it wasn’t ten and it wasn’t even five. Nope.

The compensation came in the form of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

As soon as I had turned on to Washington Road, Arno instructed me to turn into Staral’s parking lot. Staral’s was a small neighborhood bar located right behind Big Star’s parking lot.

As I pulled in, I quickly informed him that I had no intention of sitting in a bar stinking of fertilizer. He promptly told me to shut the “f#ck up” and jumped out and ran inside. Moments later he appeared with a brown paper bag and a toothless grin going from ear to ear.

While I pulled back onto Washington Road, Arno reached into the bag and produced an ice-cold bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. I shrugged my shoulders and accepted the payment for my transportation services. Arno, still grinning, removed a bottle for himself, cracked it open and started gulping it down.

Well, at least he wasn’t swearing. If there was one thing that Arno enjoyed more than swearing, it was drinking beer. And I enjoyed the quiet. The beer wasn’t bad either.

By the time we turned onto Highway HH we had finished the six-pack. It was at this point that Arno gathered up the empty beer bottles and began to hurl them out the window into the ditch by the cornfield.

This didn’t last forever, a couple of months I think. But every night for those two or three months we stopped at Staral’s so Arno could buy that six-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon for the ride home. And every night he tossed the empties out the window into that ditch by the cornfield.

There must have been over 400 bottles in that ditch before I finally stopped giving Arno a ride home.

I know, I know. Not only was I drinking while driving, Arno was littering as well. What can I say, I was young and dumb and Arno was… Well, Arno was Arno.

That was 37 years ago. For the next ten years I continued to consume Pabst Blue Ribbon on a regular basis. Sometimes on a “more than” regular basis.

However, on August 4, 1985 that all came to an end. I was in the booth announcing a morning league game at historic Finney’s West when I decided that I had had enough. And I haven’t touched a drop since then.

Happy 37th anniversary to you Arno Schubert, wherever you might be. More importantly, happy 27th anniversary to me. Until next time…from the booth.