Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Eve At Koos?

On Wednesday December 24, 1975, 6:00 AM came much too early. Besides being ungodly cold, it was Christmas Eve and I was sitting on a picnic table in the filthy Jap Shack at Koos Inc. Something was wrong with this picture.

Let me recap for you. It was way too early. It was bitter cold and I was working in an old and decrepit building with no heat. And most importantly, it was Christmas Eve morning. Yikes, how was I supposed to handle spending Christmas Eve at Koos?

The solution was simple. Drink alcohol.

Before you get the impression that I was some sort of juvenile delinquent with a drinking problem, please keep two things in mind. First of all, in 1975 it was legal to consume alcohol at the age of 18 in the state of Wisconsin. Secondly, isn’t it traditional to celebrate Christmas Eve by having a party featuring adult beverages? See, it makes perfect sense.

There was only one small detail. I was at work.

Admittedly, drinking while at work isn’t the brightest thing to do. Okay, it’s a pretty idiotic thing to do, but I wasn’t alone in this stupidity. It was actually a plant wide event that was planned the night before at Slim’s Tap after a city league basketball game. Everyone was instructed to bring their favorite spirits.

Hey, I was young and impressionable and everyone was doing it. Honest. Well, almost everyone.

On that particular Christmas Eve, everyone in the plant at 4500 13th Court was consuming alcohol; even the supervisors. Everyone, that is, but the iconic Arno Schubert. It seems the crusty old Kraut had picked the holidays to go on the wagon. Who would have guessed?

After punching in, the group of us trudged across the ice-covered yard armed with brown paper bags that concealed every type of booze imaginable. Beer, wine, whiskey… You name it, we had it. My contribution to the party was my favorite flavor of beer – Pabst Blue Ribbon.

At first we tried to be discrete around the bosses, we weren’t quite sure how they would react to us drinking on the job. We were afraid of potential repercussions. Those fears quickly disappeared when bagging supervisor Russell Thompson offered us a hit off of the bottle of Wild Turkey he pulled out of his coveralls.

The party was on.

Eventually all of the liquor we smuggled into the plant was consumed. That however didn’t stop the crew at Koos. We simply passed the hat and sent Sven Sievert over the railroad tracks to the Beer Depot on Sheridan Road for pints of blackberry brandy. When those were polished off, the process was repeated. Sort of like shampooing your hair.

Over and over again…

Ultimately the intoxicating refreshment took its toll on the employees. Forklifts were traveling a little slower and production began to sputter. The only one who wanted to work was the tee-totaling Arno. But as drunk as we were, nobody really was paying any attention to the foul-mouthed German.

At one point, Harry Leipzig turned to me and announced that he was going to the Jap Shack to take a piss. He never returned. Later he was discovered passed out on a picnic table. Without Harry, Line 3 needed someone to seal bags. Munk Ekern graciously volunteered to help out to keep production going.

Regrettably, the result of the gallant gesture was less than spectacular because Munk never actually sealed any bags. You see, I was the bagger and looking back, the whole scene was somewhat comical. The conversation went something like this:

Drunk Puddles (me): “Okay Munk, here they come.”
Drunker Munk: “Wait Puddles, you seal.”
Drunk Puddles: “Okay, but who’s gonna run the bagger?”
Drunker Munk: “You are.”
Drunk Puddles: “Okay, then who’s gonna seal?”
Drunker Munk: “You are, Puddles.”

That nonsensical exchange went on for about five minutes. Eventually, Munk would stumble off to join Harry in the Jap Shack. Did Line 3 ever start up again on that drunken Christmas Eve at Koos? I honestly don’t remember. Things were kind of fuzzy at that point.

Before you knew it, it was almost noon and the second shift crew was arriving to a plant full of intoxicated first-shifters. There were guys spread out all over the plant, a small number were standing, others were sitting and a few were laying down. But nobody was working.

Not even Arno. By this time he had given up hope of getting anything accomplished. He was just standing against the wall fuming with his arms folded across his chest and a crooked frown on his face. He was so upset he wasn’t even cursing anymore.

When the clock finally hit noon, we wobbled out of the plant and went home, having spent Christmas Eve at Koos. Remarkably, the alcohol impaired six-hour shift ended without incident. Although not much work got done, no one got in trouble or was hurt. Everyone was fine.

Until the following Monday.

Despite the supervisors being cool with our impromptu Christmas Eve party, plant manager Frank Niebling was not. No one was quite sure how he found out, but he did. And he was furious.

Determined to show us that this type of behavior was not acceptable, he called our union steward, Danny Fliess into his office. He immediately told Danny that he was going to make an example of him and proceeded to suspend him for a week with no pay.

When Danny objected and tried to plead his case, Frank exploded. Pointing a finger in the startled union steward’s face, he blurted out, “Don’t think for a minute that you guys can get away with this shit just because I wasn’t here!” Unwisely, Danny explained that nobody know he wasn’t there on Christmas Eve.

Just like that his suspension became 2 weeks without play.

I hope you enjoyed this Koos Inc. masterpiece. Each time I read one of these classics, memories are sparked. Ugly, horrible, twisted memories. Working at Koos Inc. with people like Arno Schubert will do that to you.

Please have fun at your Christmas Eve parties and be thankful that you’re not at Koos working. Merry Christmas to all. Until next time…from the booth.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Survivor Finale and Reunion

Mary Beth’s 2Cents: So, let's commence and put this stinker out of it's/our misery. Have you heard? I am not a fan of this season of Survivor. Just as I was getting ready to watch TV tonight a commercial came on for tonight's episode. As it showed scenes from shows past the words “Jaw Dropping Season” were emblazoned on my screen.

Jaw dropping? Really?

For me the words “eye lid drooping” and “snore inducing” come to mind. So much so that even while I'm watching I find my mind wanders and I end up missing large chunks of dialogue. Anyway, here's the recap…try to stay awake!

Monica rejoices as she realizes she is now the swing vote and that puts her in a position of power for the first time since she laid foot on the island. Not that she'll actually do anything with that power but more about that later.

Hayden is sent off to Redemption Island. At the Redemption Challenge, it is, as Hayden says, him “against two grandmas”. I find that kind of ageism rude and it was certain to bite him right in the ass, which it did.

The challenge was one of balancing on one leg while keeping an urn on a pedestal. The grannies kicked Hayden's butt and he was the first one gone. Laura M. begged Tina to give it to her but Tina refused and held on to the end. She got to go back to the game while Laura followed Hayden to the jury. Laura M. and Ciera have a very dramatic heart felt good-bye and Tina opts to keep the Immunity Idol clue for herself.

Back at camp, Tina and Ciera begin to work on Monica right away and try to convince her to go with them leaving Monica very confused. At the Immunity Challenge, it's another balancing act. This time they have to hold onto to a rope keeping a table balanced as they stack blocks. Tyson wins the Idol, though he doesn't really need it.

Later, Monica takes a load of crap from Gervase who always reverts to bullying which seems to be his way to play the game. Monica cries. This is the first of three or four times tonight when she cried. Sheesh!

At Tribal Council, it's Ciera and Tina vs. Tyson, Gervase and Monica. Try as they might, the votes are cast. Tyson gives Gervase his hidden immunity idol and Ciera ends up getting voted off. And so the final four are – Tina, Monica, Tyson and Gervase.

The final Immunity Challenge is a huge thing with an obstacle balance thing to cross to get bags of letters. They have to run up a huge flight of stairs and then hurl themselves down a water slide to start all over.

In the end, Tyson wins. Man, I hate him! He's definitely in the final three. At Tribal, there's just nothing anyone can say and Tina is just sent limping off. So there they are – the Final Three – Tyson, Gervase and Monica. Each one more weaselly than the next and not one of them actually deserving of winning the million dollars. Sheesh!

Vag’s Evaluation: The jury for the Final Tribal Council consisted of: Aras, Vytas, Caleb, Katie, Hayden, Laura, Ciera and Tina. For me, this was the last hope to redeem this pitiful season. Hopefully, there would be some Sue Hawk-like vitriol shown toward the three finalists, Tyson, Monica and Gervase. I wanted to see this loathsome trio squirm a bit.

Alas, I was once again disappointed.

The opening statements from the three set the tone for this snoozefest. First, Gervase blathered about going from old school to new school. Then Monica whined about not being a lap dog. At least she didn’t cry. BUT TYSON DID! It was something about doing it for his girlfriend. Blah, blah, blah…

Now it was time for the jurors to interrogate these three dolts.

Vytas – After complimenting Tyson, he then told him he could never vote for him and would have to decide between Monica and Gervase. Huh?

Katie – Congratulated the group and then basically told Tyson that he was a prick. At least one castaway was observant.

Caleb – Asked Gervase what his big move was, to which Gervase replied, “Voting out your brother, Aras.” Nice. Then Monica started blubbering. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it is from hanging around Tyson too much.

Ciera – Asked Tyson if he was a hero or a villain. He surmised that since he didn’t consider himself a villain, he must be a hero. Okay. She asked Gervase if he ever considered voting out Tyson. His answer? Not really. At least nobody cried during this “tough” line of questioning.

Laura – All right, back to the crying. All it took was Monica being asked why she didn't revealed more about herself to the other castaways. This set off more weeping. Kleenex® could have made a bundle sponsoring the Final Tribal Council.

Tina – The diminutive one asked the three finalists to describe their inner core in one word. Monica said “generous”, Gervase came up with “honorable” and Tyson replied “fun-loving.” What this proved is beyond me. Maybe that Tyson cheated by using a compound word

Hayden – After asking Tyson where he hid his Hidden Immunity Idol, he told Monica that she was a fake. You’ll never guess what happened next. That’s right!!! She started sobbing. Again. And again. And again…

Aras – His question was whom would you vote for if you couldn’t vote for yourself? Gervase said Tyson because he had so many elements to his game. Monica agreed that it was Tyson, because he was such a force in the game. Tyson then chose Monica and blew some smoke up her ass. I guess he didn’t want to see any more tears.

All that was left was the Final Vote…

Dr. J’s Prognosis: It is my privilege to recap what my FSGP (Fellow Survivor Geek Paul) claims is his last season of blogging about Survivor. I was recently knighted a “Snarkess” by one Patty 4-Names and I shall wear that cloak with honor. But first I want to say without any snarkishness that I was saddened about the announcement that several weeks ago contestant Tina lost her son in a car accident. My thoughts are with her and her daughter.

So here is what I have to say about this season. It was not my favorite. I have nodded my head in agreement with Paul and Mary Beth each week as they have tried to put as much positive spin on the show as possible. The problem was not only design but also casting. I don’t know about ya’ll but I don’t want to see loved ones pitted against each other. Life is tough enough, who wants to watch that?

I also think that the casting sucked. Enough with the rehashing of fan favorites blah, blah, blah! Give us some new people! Make it hard again. Starve these people! Make them work for it!!!!! That is why we watch this damn show!

In seasons past I have been bestowed with the duty of describing the moment when Jeff Probst makes his panther like entrance into the reunion show. I have made no secret of the fact that I lust after him in a perfectly normal suburban married housewife type of way. I just wish he would go back to the days when he would pretend like he was parachuting in directly from tribal council I LOVED that!!! Sigh…

With pretend anticipation he read the names. Of course no one voted for Gervase because he was annoying. Monica did get a vote even though she was annoying and then the MOST annoying guy Tyson, sporting one of those fake tuxedo shirts with pit stains, won it all.

I wasn’t surprised and to be honest he actually played a good game. I just don’t care for him. But yeah for you funky Tyson! You finally won. Now go away and never return.

Part of my problem with this season is that I tried to stick with it and it made me feel bipolar.

I started to like hairy Colton boyfriend and then he got voted off and then I started to like blond daughter of Tina and she got voted off and then I started to like hunky boyfriend of Kat and he got voted off and then I admired that Laura was kicking some ass on Redemption Island so I started to like her and she got voted off and then I started to respect Ciera because she was kind of defiant and playing her game against the odds and then she got voted off.

So in the end I was left with nothing. I’m sorry Monica Culpepper, you just seem bitchy to me and your husband seems like a dufus (his entire career in the NFL he only had like 34 sacks I think in 9 years he should have done better… PS do you guys know that guy is a LAWYER??)  Save your crocodile tears for someone who cares, Monica Culpepper!

A message to Colton, who tried to mock the AARP during the Reunion Show; “Hey dude I BELONG to that group now and not only did I get a free tote for joining but I also get discounts on lawyer fees, so stay out of Wisconsin”.

And since I’m feeling so cranky; “Hey Rupert, take off the tie die and put on some man panties!  You could have stayed on and won!!” Ughhhhhhh!!!! 

Thankfully a happy moment appeared in the form of my man Cochran. It seems that my fan fave has ditched Harvard law school and gone into sitcom writing, a much more secure career path I think! Go Cochran!!!!!!

Of course at the end of the show we had to be teased with the next seasons amazing twists and they just kept showing all of these “B”’s floating across the screen.

I HATE that!

What does that mean? Boobs? Bugs? Boys? Eventually it was revealed that it means Brains, Brawn and some other word that starts with B (Not boobs, Paul, I’m sorry). All I can say is I hope the damn show is better. And I also hope that if he takes a season off to rest and revive that my good friend Paul Vagnoni reconsiders about his Survivor blogging. I for one will miss it!

One last Vag’s Evaluation: Thanks for the kind words, Jamie. And more thanks for jumping on board for the final recap, thus making it a true trilogy. I would also like to express my gratitude to Mary Beth for enduring this entire gut-wrenching season with me. I know it wasn’t easy. As she would say… Sheesh!

Until next time…from the booth.

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Koos Christmas Story

On a bitter cold Saturday night, late December in 1976, the men of Koos Inc. gathered in the backroom of Mario’s Red Arrow Club on Sheridan Road in Kenosha. The reason for this get-together was a Union Christmas party. UFCW Local 73A was good enough to sponsor the much-appreciated gathering for the workforce from Koos. This night was going to be an event to be remembered. This celebration would be a first. 

Never before had the Union workers at Koos Inc. had an official Christmas function and tonight that would all change.

The year before, not only was there no party, the employees had to work until 11:00 o’clock on Christmas Eve morning. Of course the beer that was smuggled into the plant created a somewhat cheerful atmosphere, but it still wasn’t a party. Not even the numerous pints of blackberry brandy purchased from the nearby Beer Depot could do the trick. It just wasn’t a party.

The people in management always had a nice little soiree each year, but nothing for the guys in the Union. This year was going to be different. The guys in the plant were finally going to have a bash of their very own.

And what a bash it was!

The backroom at Mario’s Red Arrow Club was dimly lit, long and narrow, with a chest-high wall at one end that separated a small kitchen from the rest of the hall. This might have been the back of a smoke-filled neighborhood bar, but it was perfect for this inaugural event.

The good people from UFCW had provided the guys from Koos with enough money for the hall, food, a keg of beer and a couple of bottles of hard liquor. Several of the guys had even brought festive holiday deserts. What more was needed? Let the party begin!

Because we were new to this Christmas party thing, most of us had neglected to bring a date. What did we know? The only females present for the event were Ziggy Gutowski’s wife and the aunt of Danny Fliess who brought her two daughters. Other than that the guest list was strictly male.

It was still going to be quite a shindig, trust me.

While the sloppy joes warmed in the crock-pot and the hot dogs simmered in a large pot of boiling water, we decided to start playing cards. As Ted Nugent blared through the speakers hung on the walls, the collection of partygoers broke into two separate games of cards, one at each end of the room.

Located at the east end was a boisterous group of Koos veterans, consisting of Danny Fliess, the legendary Arno Schubert, Jim Weber, Munk Ekern, Harry Leipzig, along with several others. They were playing poker for cash and the shots of Wild Turkey were flying. 

Joining me at the other end of the hall, near the kitchen area, were Chuckie Haubrich, Chuck Huck and some of the newer employees. Rather than gamble, we had opted to play drinking games where the loser had to guzzle a beer. The card playing was sloppy, but the suds were cold.

The party was in full swing and everyone was having a high-spirited time. That is until our group spotted a humongous can of black olives.

As we were attempting to get the can of olives open, the group from the east end informed us that they wanted some of the olives. The diminutive Chuck Huck put a handful on a paper plate and brought it over to them.

Evidently this was not good enough. They wanted more. Much more.

Several members of their contingent made their way over to our table and demanded the whole can of olives. We would have no part of that and we all grabbed a big handful and told them that they were all ours!

Seeing that we were not giving up the olives peacefully, the “east-enders” grabbed the can and made off with it and the remaining olives in it. We were outraged and shouted, “You want all the olives?” With that the war was on. Olives were flying from one end of the hall to the other.

Unfortunately, the airborne olives were only the beginning. Soon cups of beer were being flung across the room. Being near the kitchen area, our group decided to escalate the battle. We kicked it up a notch. Using cooking tongs, we began plucking hot dogs from the boiling water and used them as projectiles in our efforts during this now epic battle. The frankfurters were flying!

This insane melee resembled a scene from a Three Stooges film. At this point it was pure chaos.

Then something happened that momentarily brought the frantic food fight to an abrupt stop. For some unknown reason, Chuckie Haubrich grabbed a big handful of raw ground beef, wadded into a lump the size of a baseball and hurled it across the hall at Arno Schubert’s oddly shaped head.

Before I go on, for those of you who don’t know Chuckie Haubrich, he possessed an extremely strong throwing arm. The man could throw a ping-pong ball through a brick wall.

Now back to the story.

Splat!!!! The sphere of uncooked ground beef had found its’ target – the right side of Arno’s scarred face. Chuckie Haubrich would have made Nolan Ryan proud with that toss.

Seeing what happened, we started chuckling as Arno staggered while trying to regain his bearings. It didn’t take long before everyone in the room was roaring with laughter. Well, everyone except for Arno.

With the glob of raw meat still stuck on his face, he picked up a pan up of orange Jell-O topped with whipped cream. Fuming, with the desert held at shoulder height, he unsteadily made his way over to our end of the room.

As he got closer, he spat out, “You think it’s funny?” Everyone continued to snicker, wondering if he would actually retaliate against Chuckie Haubrich. After all, he was the one who had tattooed him with the beefy missile. When he finally reached our cluster, Arno walked right by the 6’4” 250 pound Haubrich.

Instead, he turned to the 5’7” 150 pound Chuck Huck and hissed yet again, “You think it’s funny?” At that point you could have heard a pin drop.

Huck stared the irate German right in the eye and blurted out, “Hell ya it’s funny!”

You guessed it. Chuck Huck was now wearing the pan of orange Jell-O and whipped cream all over his head. Needless to say, the war was on again. Only, now cakes and various other creamy delights had been added to the arsenal.

When all was said and done, the backroom of Mario’s Red Arrow Club was declared a disaster area. Food was not only on the walls and floor, but on the ceiling as well. As we scraped our holiday meal off of our clothes, the manager of Mario’s kindly asked us to leave. Okay, maybe it wasn’t so kindly. He told us to get out and never come back.

We did just that. We made our way over to the King’s Den; where the party continued. The details from that point on are hazy. I do remember that at one point, Arno was wearing a Santa Claus suit. Or was it Huck? I’m not sure. Yours truly had consumed far too many Pabst Blue Ribbons for such details.

It should be noted that the Union didn’t get the deposit back for the hall. And there was never another UFCW sponsored Christmas party. That Christmas party was the first and last for the Union guys at Koos. It was the only Christmas Party. Ever.

But what a bash it was!

May you all have a Happy Holiday season and a very Merry and Blessed Christmas. 

Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Survivor 27.13

Mary Beth’s 2Cents: After Ciera's somewhat bold move last week, I have to admit, I was kind of looking forward to seeing the aftermath on tonight's episode. Granted her bold move really didn't work since it sent Katie to Redemption Island, but it was a bold move and, at least, finally, someone was making a move. Ciera has turned out to be something of a surprise really.

Who'd a thunk she'd be good a strategy? Not me, that's for sure. I still don't like her or anyone left on this season for that matter but, hey, she's thinking ahead and that makes for good TV sometimes.

Monica, of course, can't stop herself from over talking everything. This fact is not lost on Tyson who get really irritated when she does this. Over at Redemption, Tina aka Skeletor is now pitted against the Machine, aka Laura M., and her daughter Katie. She briefly talks of throwing the challenge to give Katie a chance but during the challenge she stomps all over her.

The challenge is the one where they tie together sticks to make a longer stick to get sets of keys through a fence. Then they open three locks to win. Laura M. makes easy peasy of this challenge, whizzing past both Tina and Katie quickly. Katie can't tie a knot to save her soul so Tina flies past her, sobbing all the way. Apparently it hurts her to beat her daughter but she would have had to lie down and fallen asleep to give Katie a chance. Katie was just that bad!!

The rest of the episode might as well be called “Everyone Wants Monica!” Tyson and Gervase shuffle to confirm Monica's loyalty to their alliance. Ciera and Hayden hatch a plan to get her to come to the “good side.” In the meantime, Ciera wins a much-needed Immunity Challenge and they get to share…what else…FOOD! Later, Ciera tells Monica just how yucky Tyson and Gervase have really been when talking about her. Monica cries. Really.

At Tribal, Ciera and Hayden do their level best to get Monica to see the error of her ways with Tyson and Gervase. They reiterate that Ty-Ty and the Gerv have been talking smack about her from Day 1. Thing is, neither of them deny it! Monica seems almost convinced but she votes off Hayden anyway.

Now this is either really smart or really stupid. If she is in the final two against Tyson, the jury could see her as a hanger-on and realize Tyson was the mastermind and give him their votes. OR…the jury could just hate Tyson enough to give Monica the votes just because the hate him. Honestly though, she's not making the final 2 if she keeps playing this dumb ass way! Frankly, I hope Laura M. returns and she and Ciera take the whole thing. Now that would be a great ending to a pathetic season!

Vag’s Evaluation: Okay. Here’s the deal. A couple of weeks ago I had more or less decided that this would be my last season of doing the Survivor recaps. That was based primarily on how crappy this season was. Writing the recap had become a chore and I no longer looked forward to it. It wasn’t fun anymore and the season sucking was a major reason.

But then I began to think. Do I really want to stop after eleven seasons? I could see ten or twelve, but eleven? Who stops at eleven? Not even bowlers! I seriously considered giving it one more shot next season. That would be an even dozen. What the heck did I have to lose? Hmm… What to do?

Well, tonight’s magnificently crapalicious episode answered that question for me!


Sunday’s Finale and Reunion Show will be my swan song. Sayonara. Cie la vie.

So, as I listen to Christmas music blasting through my Koss® headphones I write my penultimate Survivor recap. Wow, this is sorta melancholy. Typically I fill an entire page with notes while watching an episode of Survivor. Tonight I scribbled out 10 lines worth. Barely.

What the heck was I supposed to write about?

The first 22 minutes of the show were dedicated to that bullshit Redemption Island. The “duel” between Tina, Laura and Katie was an old retread that I have seen at least a dozen times. Then Probst tries to make the idiotic Blood vs. water twist work by making the dopey castaways cry. And Tina did! Oh the humanity!

One last thing on the subject of Redemption Island. Someone has to inform the producers of the correct definition of “duel.” A duel is a contest or race between TWO parties. Not three. Dopes.

After nine more minutes we were treated to Ciera and Hayden woofing down pizza, hamburgers and fries following Ciera’s victory in the Immunity Challenge. Zzzzz…

The remaining portion of the hour was devoted to making us believe there was a snowball’s chance in hell that Monica would flip and vote out Tyson. BUT WE ALL KNEW THAT WASN’T GOING TO HAPPEN!


To be totally honest with you, I did draw one bit of enjoyment from tonight’s show. It was when the jury was introduced at Tribal Council. When the freshly scrubbed Katie strolled in, Hayden’s eyes bugged out of his head and his tongue fell out of his mouth while uttering, “She’s hot!”

That’s it for me. One last time after Sunday’s shows. Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Survivor 27.12

Mary Beth’s 2Cents: Hey! Let's all beat up Tyson! Let's all beat up Tyson! Let's all beat up Tyyyysooon!!! And so says all of us!! Yes, it did my heart good to see ol' Hayden start the show off by pointing out how Tyson is leading the rest of them all around like so many sheep. The look on Tyson's face was priceless but the best part was that Gervase couldn't stand to have anyone think he was only the “second” in command so he stood up and threw himself under the bus! If only it didn't take 32 days to get these people fired up!

The beat down continued at Redemption Island with the recently blindsided alluding to a man's word not meaning much in Utah or Philly – where Tyson and Gervase are from. Gervase got the last word, albeit a whiny baby-headed one, when he stood up and whined that Caleb was just being “a bad sore loser!!!”

Hayden pretty much spent the entire episode trying to get Ciera to make some kind of move but she was stoic and seemed to be ignoring him or counter attacking him at every turn. Of course, she got the clue for the Hidden Immunity Idol and for some reason decided to share it with her alliance.

They are all off searching when Hayden realizes what they're doing so he and Katie join them. The jungle becomes quite crowded as they're all hunting high and low. Of course, later on, Tyson manages to “slip away” and makes an overly emotional speech about how finding the idol means the world to him. With tears. Yes, I'm serious. And, of course, he turns right around, scampers up the nearest tree and voila! Finds the damn idol. If that was staged I don't know what is. If Mark Burnett wants us to believe all of this is really happening he needs to hire better writers. Sheesh!

The Immunity Challenge comes and goes with Gervase winning the immunity and a cart full of ice cream, which he shares with Tyson and Monica. Hayden takes that time to plant more seeds of dissension in Ciera who still doesn't seem to take the bait.

But hold the phone folks!

At Tribal, Hayden calls them all out on the rug and shows her that no matter what happens, if she stays with her alliance, she will only get to Number 4 but if she makes a move now she will be one of three and have a whole new start in this game. Gervase and Tyson try to argue otherwise but even they call her Number 4!

At the vote it's a tie between Monica and Hayden. The second vote still comes up tied so they end up drawing stones. The three people who did NOT get any  votes have to draw stones – black stones, you stay, white stones, you leave. Katie, in what is probably the worst show of bad luck ever, picks the white stone and she's off to Redemption Island.

32 days into this season and someone FINALLY makes a bold move. It might get interesting now. It just might.

Vag’s Evaluation: Here we go again - another week and another dose of this bunch of unlikeable cads trying to prove how stupid they are. Wonderful. Plus, I don’t feel very well. Oh well, enough whining. I signed up for this job and I better get to it.

First some clever quotes from Fellow Survivor Geek Patty 4Names:

“Now they’re eating frikkin’ ICE CREAM! It never stops with the food on this season!”

“This ep doesn’t deserve much bloggage, unless something super exciting happens at the end. Sigh…"


I rather fancy her last comment. I believe it captures most the way most people feel about this season. Hopefully my cohort, Mary Beth covered some of the activities that occurred tonight because I have no intention of doing so. If she didn’t, I don’t blame her…

What I will give you is my opinions of the remaining castaways. Like tonight’s jury of Aras, Vytas and Caleb, I too will am laughing out loud. Rest assured that everything I am writing about this dimwits is oozing with sarcasm.

On Redemption Island:

Tina – I have had enough of this microscopic winner from season two. Go home already!
Laura M. – Ciera sprang forth from your loins. Enough said. You too can go home!
Katie – I guess you can stay around for a while. Especially if you break out your nerd glasses again.

The Five Remaining Castaways:

Monica – I like your husband a lot better than you, and he played for the Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chicago Bears! What does that tell you?
Hayden – I hate to say this, but he might be the least annoying of this group. Hell, he has Kat for a girlfriend, these other beauties shouldn’t faze him at all.
Ciera – I can’t put my finger on it, but I cannot stand this little cretin. Maybe it’s her odd peanut-shaped head or the way she treated her scumbag mother. I’m not sure, but she needs to go away. Soon.
Gervase – Okay I get it, you’re from Philly and are street smart. But you’re also 44 years old and riding the coattails of the most miserable jerk on season 27.
Tyson – That’s the miserable jerk of which I speak! Let’s start with the fact that he looks like an emaciated Clay Matthews with a broken nose. He is also an arrogant scoundrel with no personality. Then, on top of that, he was blubbering tonight. He needs to be gone. I no longer want him to hurt my eyes and ears. Or my sensibilities.

Man, I hate this season.

Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Survivor 27.11

Mary Beth’s 2Cents: I have to apologize in advance for the lackadaisical nature of my 2Cents tonight. Let me explain. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a holiday most noted for the sizeable feast enjoyed by my family. A feast, it should be noted, that I am partially (read half) responsible for supplying – fully cooked and on time. This means that I spend the day before running around town getting all the things I forgot to get earlier and cooking what can be cooked a day ahead. Most notably, the turkey. By the time I sat down to watch Survivor I was ready to relax and enjoy.

The thing is, I can't enjoy this season. I just can't. I don't care a fig about any one of these people. In fact, they annoy the crap outta me. I do not care about skinny Tyson who runs everything. I do not care for Gervase or his sidekicks who blindly do what Tyson tells them to do. I really don't care for any of the women on this season. Especially Tina. I became quite irate with Laura M. who insisted on helping pitiful Tina win the Redemption Island challenge thus sending Vytas packing off to the jury.

I found myself drifting, getting up to check on the turkey, coming back and actually dozing off a couple of times! I dozed off! Now that has never happened in any other season of this wonderful show so that is proof right there that this season…for lack of a better word…sucks.

By the time they got to Tribal, I was done. All the talk about who to take out, Tyson? Ciera? Blah, blah who cares! When it was Caleb who got the blindside I couldn't even get excited about witnessing a good blindside. I'm over this season. Blood vs. Water was the dumbest twist in Survivor history and next season, please, for the love of all that is holy, just bring back our show – two tribes of strangers, stranded, competing for a million bucks, no Redemption Island, no weird twists, just good challenges, little food and interesting personalities. Please. I'm begging here.

Oh one more thing. Another telling sign that I'm over this season? My 2Cents has been getting shorter and shorter each week! I am speechless!

Vag’s Evaluation: It has been no secret how I feel about season 27, Survivor: Blood vs. Water. The cast is less than stellar and the Redemption Island twist totally sucks. However, I have to admit, tonight’s episode picked up my spirits a little bit. At least there is a little hope that the season won’t be rotten from start to finish.

The only reason I give this season any chance at all is that there are finally some castaways that I can’t stand. At all. Let me clarify. It has been a struggle finding anyone likeable. I finally came up with Tina’s daughter, Katie. And I am sticking with her. She isn’t very annoying and is fairly fetching. I couldn’t care less about the rest of those characters. No great dislike, just a great deal of indifference.

But that has all changed. A lot.

After Caleb was “blindsided” and sent to Redemption Island, this is what we have left after eleven episodes:

Kasama – Tyson, Monica, Ciera, Gervase, Hayden and Katie

Redemption Island – Laura, Tina and Caleb

Jury – Aras and Vytas

While the jury doesn’t really enter into the equation at this point, I have formed definite opinions of the other nine that remain in the game. While I cannot stand the Redemption Island aspect of the game, I have to consider the three players that currently reside there.

Caleb is okay, but the buff around his neck and those cowboy boots sorta creep me out. I don’t give him much chance of winning his way back into the game. The same can be said for the miniscule Tina. The only reason she’s not on the jury right now is because Laura helped her finish second in the duel, completely screwing Vytas.

Speaking of Laura, the third resident of Redemption Island, what she did to Vytas came as no shock to me. She’s a rotten dirt bag. After all, she’s the “proud” mama of that good-for-nothing weasel, Ciera.

Dear little Ciera. The lovely girl who voted her mother to Redemption Island. When she finally gets to Redemption Island and loses, they should toss her into the fire along with her buff. I can’t stand that snake in the grass.

I have established that I have a growing fondness for Katie, so let’s deal with the rest of the Kasama tribe. Gervase and Monica both surprise me that they are still around. Gervase, because his old-ass can’t compete anymore and Monica because all she does is win Immunity Challenges. Doesn’t say anything, even at Tribal Council, just wins the challenges.

That leaves Hayden and Tyson. Like Katie, Hayden is growing on me, but not for the same reasons. Trust me! He’s fairly honest, decent in challenges and attempts to strategize. If he is around when my Katie is sent to the jury, I will be pulling for Hayden.

The same cannot be said for that jerk, Tyson. As much as I detest Ciera, I have greater disdain for Tyson and his turquoise boxer briefs. I was so hoping he would have choked on one of those huge steaks he was wolfing down during the Immunity Challenge. You know Ciera doesn’t know how to perform the Heimlich maneuver and Gervase was too busy scarfing those grilled sausages. Damn, they looked good, didn’t they?

Oh well, that’s how I feel. Have a great Thanksgiving! Until next time…from the booth.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Koos Thanksgiving Tradition

It was a typical cold afternoon in late November at Koos Inc. All four of the production lines were humming, spitting out Safe Step Ice Melter® in packages ranging in size from 10-pound bags to 100-pound drums. All three of the forklift operators were flying around the plant, doing their collective best to keep up. They knew that if they didn’t, a line would stop and they would hear it from the Production Supervisor, namely me.

Okay, not all of the forklift operators were doing their best to keep up.

As I stood chatting with Will Meurer from the manufacturing department, veteran forklift operator Herb “Butch” Krienke screeched to a halt inches way from the two of us. Doing my best Arno Schubert impersonation, I bellowed, “What the f*ck is wrong with you, Butch?”

Most of the work force paused momentarily to see what had caused my reaction.


Krienke, without even batting an eye, yelled back, “Excuse me! I was just wondering if Danielson is picking up the stuff for Thanksgiving. You know it’s Monday already!”

This resulted in all of the crew in the immediate vicinity to cock an eye and wonder what was going to happen next.

Shooting a quick glance at Meurer, I replied in a firm, no-nonsense tone, telling Krienke that Danielson would be picking everything up on Wednesday afternoon so he can hand it out between shifts. Danielson was Arnie Danielson, the Plant Manager.

Noticing that I now had everyone’s attention, my voice increased in volume when I asked Krienke if he had let the ladies in the office know whether he wanted a turkey or a ham this year. He replied, “Hell ya, I told them I want the ham. They can keep those turkeys.


Meurer then told Krienke, “You’re nuts, give me the bird any day.”

As Krienke laughed and sped off on his forklift, I noticed that the rest of the employees had stopped staring and were now having “small group discussions”. I let them go for a bit before finally asking them why nobody was working.

After a short pause, a bagger whose nickname was Bonehead stepped forward saying, “Paul, most of us just started working here and we don’t know nothing about the turkey or ham thing. Hell, we didn’t even know we was getting anything for Thanksgiving!”

Remembering that the production at Koos was extremely seasonal and that over 50% of the laborers were indeed brand new; I ordered the lines to shut down and had an impromptu plant meeting.

When the machines quieted down and everyone had gathered, I asked the man they called Bull Dog to step forward. As he did, I asked him, “Dog, you’re a Union Steward, didn’t you tell the guys they had to make a choice between a turkey or a ham for Thanksgiving?”

Bull Dog looked perplexed for a moment, and then grinning slightly, shrugged his shoulders and said, “Oops, what was I thinking? Sorry Paul.” I told him not to worry, there was still time.

Catching the gaze of Krienke, Meurer, Bull Dog and several other Koos old-timers, I glanced at my watch before addressing the crew with my solution for this problem.

“Here’s what we are going to do”, I announced. “Since it is nearly 2:00 o’clock and break time, any of you who haven’t already made your choice, get over to the office and let Millie or Louise know what you want, a turkey or a ham.”

The word ham hadn’t left my lips when 15 or 20 dirty, dusty, hardhat wearing workers darted for the ramp, making a beeline out of the plant, across the parking lot and into the office to let the unknowing ladies know whether they wanted a turkey or a ham for Thanksgiving.

With all the novices over at the office placing their orders, Tyrone Walker, a veteran Koos employee of several seasons, walked past me and the other remaining veterans, shook his head and muttered, “You guys just ain’t right.”

As we burst into laughter, the phone in my office rang. Taking a moment to compose myself, I answered it. It was Millie, one of the secretaries from the office. Now Millie had a bit of a southern accent, so sometimes some of her words were hard to understand.

Not this time.

“You assholes did it again! A turkey or a ham! Happy Thanksgiving, Paul!” With that, she hung up the phone rather firmly. I smiled to myself, knowing that the Koos Thanksgiving tradition had carried on for another year.

I hoped you enjoyed this holiday classic from the Koos Inc. vault. Next month you will be treated to those masterpieces, “Christmas Eve At Koos?” and “A Koos Christmas Story”. Make sure you don’t miss them!

Until next time…from the booth.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Casting the First Stone

So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, “He that is without sin among you let him cast a stone at her.” ~ John 8:7

I don’t know about you, but I’m in no position to cast a stone at anyone. I’m not trying to pontificate or anything, it’s just not my style. I’m always afraid if I start judging others, they will return the “favor” with me, and I don’t want that. I’m no Charles Manson, but I have done things of which I am not overly proud. That’s probably true for most of us if we’re honest and don’t suffer from false moral superiority.

The reason for the biblical reference is the recent developments at St. Peter Catholic Church and the subsequent reactions. At last Saturday’s Mass, Rev. Bill Hayward from Holy Rosary read a prepared statement saying that Rev. Ireneusz Chodakowski was being replaced for three weeks. This was due to an ongoing investigation for Chodakowski’s alleged “lack of good judgment” regarding use of social media, namely Facebook.

On Wednesday of this week, the Kenosha News ran a front-page article by Bill Guida that was titled, “St. Peter priest removed amid investigation.” The article explained that an anonymous parishioner told the paper about the purported situation with Chodakowski. Imagine that, anonymous. The nameless informant’s account was chock full of the words allegedly and apparently.

Kenosha News Photo by Sean Krajacic
So, based on this unidentified person’s allegations, the Kenosha News ran a front-page column, complete with a photo. Please don’t think that I’m singling out the local print media. I’m not. The Milwaukee TV stations swooped in for the kill as well. TMJ4 even had the smarmy Jonah Kaplan sticking his microphone in parishioner’s faces as they exited Mass last week looking for their reactions. I have always felt this was a classless move.

Of course this “story” set off a firestorm of controversy. The blue-haired old ladies, that don’t know Facebook from Redbook, raced to their phones to spread their viewpoints. The haters of organized religion, particularly the Catholic faith, had new ammo for their guns. The vitriol and venom was flying because of what an anonymous parishioner perceived as some inappropriate photographs on Facebook.

Before I go on, I need to say something.


Give me a break. If alleged impropriety on a Facebook account was a crime, 75% of the people using it should be arrested. At the top of that list would be the fools that allow their 12-year old children to have an account on Facebook.

Again, COME ON!

Okay, back to my original diatribe.

The Kenosha News ran another front-page story on Father Chodakowski this morning. This piece is again authored by Bill Guida and comes after three days of nasty accusations and numerous judgments. The new column is titled, “Police probe clears priest.”


The first paragraph reads, “The pastor of St. Peter Catholic Church, 2224 30th Ave. – removed late last week amid allegations of impropriety with social media – was cleared Friday by Kenosha Police Department investigators of engaging in criminal activity.”

The article went on to say that Kenosha Police Department, Captain Eric Larsen said detectives, working with Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation investigators and conferring with the Kenosha County District Attorney’s office, determined that no crime occurred.

Again, nice.

Like I posted in Facebook earlier, I wonder if all the people that were “spreading the word” regarding the allegations of Father Chodakowski’s misuse of social media read this morning’s paper. I sure hope that they are just as eager to let everyone know how the investigation turned out. But I’ll bet not. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter. The damage is done.

I better stop here, lest I start judging others. My only advice is, regardless of your personal feelings or beliefs, get the whole story and do some critical thinking before rushing to judgment. People can get hurt when stones are cast.

Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Survivor 27.10

I am flying solo tonight. I could lie and tell you that my usual partner, Mary Beth, is away on a special assignment, but I will not. Because of the strongly worded letter to Survivor Executive Producer Mark Burnett that she wrote on October 30, she has been suspended. But not by me, I was in total agreement with her. No, the powers that be at CBS came down hard on MB and have prohibited her from participating in the recap this week. So much for freedom of speech. Oh well…

Tonight’s episode is pretty much a no-brainer. It’s all about the beautiful bond between a mother and her daughter. And not much else. What makes it worse is that Ciera, the daughter, is a creepy little skank. It’s fairly obvious from the very beginning that she is willing to vote off her dear mother, Laura. The rest of the show is spent attempting to build suspense with the antics of what has become one of the most unlikeable group of castaways in recent memory.

The Redemption Island duel pits Aras, Vytas and Tina against each other with the top two finishers staying and the loser being sent home. The competitors have to grab 3 bags containing balls with a grappling hook. When you have all 3, they then had to use one of the balls to complete a suspended table maze. After some tension that was created with clever editing, Vytas and Tina finish one-two and Aras has his buff burned. But not before he and his brother, Vytas cry some great big crocodile tears. Give me a break.

Because Vytas finished first, he is allowed to award a Hidden Immunity Clue to one of the eight Kasama tribe members. He promptly turns it over to Katie, who, in a rare moment of brilliance, keeps it.

Back at camp we learn that Tyson, who is looking more and more like Skeletor, has decided it is time to blindside Laura. Of course Caleb and Hayden both nod in agreement with brainless expressions on their faces. Surprise, surprise! The next 10 minutes or so are used in a feeble attempt to show the intimate relationship between the mother and daughter team of Laura and Ciera.

This attempt fails miserably. It only reinforces how dull-witted Laura is and what a trifling little wretch she raised. For me, the suspense ended right here. There was no doubt in my mind that Laura would be voted off to Redemption Island (again) with Ciera sticking a dagger in her back and twisting it for good measure.

And I was correct.

Oh, we got to see Katie search for the Hidden Immunity Idol with Laura shadowing her. There was also a lame Immunity Challenge that Monica won. I guess it’s significant that she gave her reward of jumbo hot dogs, juicy cheeseburgers and fries to the rest of the tribe in some sort of goodwill gesture. But it didn’t matter, it was painfully apparent that Laura was going back to Redemption Island. Sure, the producers tried to create the notion that there was a chance that it might be Katie, but I knew better.

At Tribal Council Probst basically outlined the entire situation for those that weren’t paying attention. I took it as an insult to my intelligence. He knew and I knew that Laura was getting voted off and there would be more crying. And she was and there was. More crying that is.

This season has become so bad that I am searching for anything that will make it more interesting. Anything. Tonight I came up with an outstanding quote from Emmy-award winning host, Jeff Probst. During the Immunity Challenge he came up with this gem, “You want Immunity tonight!” Wow! Talk about stating the obvious. Sheesh…

Another observation I made was how nice these people have it this season. Oh, I’m not just talking about the seemingly never-ending feasts they are rewarded. How about the endless change of wardrobes the castaways seem to have? They are always wearing something new. I don’t recall Richard, Sue or Rudy afforded such a luxury on Borneo in season one. But, what do I know? I’m just a mindless Survivor Geek.

Mary Beth’s suspension better be lifted soon; I can’t endure this torture by myself much longer. Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Survivor 27.9

Mary Beth’s 2Cents: Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah, here I am at, Camp Kasama!

Sorry, I digress, but whenever I hear Camp Kasama that song comes to mind. Anyway, tonight's episode starts with everyone milling around at camp after Aras is voted out. Then the silence is broken by Tina who announces, “I have to say something… Now, in my experience, anytime someone prefaces what they're going to say with “I have something to say…” they usually have nothing important to say and should just shut up. So it was with Tina who tried to make Tyson and Monica feel bad for voting out Aras. Just shut up, Tina.

Later, Tina, realizing she is on her way out, tells her daughter to do whatever it takes to save herself. Now for a normal person this would seem like an invitation to disengage from her but her daughter doesn't seem to get the drift and goes on wondering what do to. Suddenly, BAM – we were into the Immunity Challenge. This episode was going to go fast!

It did my heart good to see a real, old fashioned eating contest. The first round – worms! Everyone got a shot glass of disgusting, writhing mealworms. The first three to get them down and keep them down moved on to round two. Tyson, Monica, and Vytas all move on. Second round – pig intestines! Two who keep it down move on to round three. Monica and Gervase move on and they get to eat – drum roll please!! – Big, fat juicy grubs! Gervase was not able to get these down on his first season so he was the underdog here. Monica and her big horse teeth won this one easily. She even ran over to Probst to shove her choppers in his face to show that she ate them all.

Back at camp, Vytas immediately began looking for some validation that he was going to be the next one out. He started to beg for his life and happily announced that begging was not beneath him. He did manage to shake up the standing alliance a bit because Tyson felt the need to step in and do some damage control. At Tribal Council, Vytas stirred up a lot of dust. He openly pointed out the cracks in the alliance and made a lot of sense but, in the end, he was sent packing.

Behold! There was a second Immunity Challenge tonight. This time they had to balance coins on the end of a sword. Monica had to give up her Immunity Idol and it was anyone's game. Well, turned out it was Katie's game – she won immunity. Back at camp, Monica's paranoia kicked into high gear and she started talking to everyone who was within earshot. This, naturally, put her alliance off because they can never be sure where she's standing at any given moment. At Tribal Council, Tina – looking like a slightly younger version of Granny Clampet – suddenly grew a spine and called Monica out casting a lot of doubt her way. But, she also talked just a wee bit too long and loud and it was bye bye Tina after Probst tallied the votes.

Best line of the night – Monica Culpepper, getting her undies in a bundle after Tina says some disparaging remarks about her – she says, “I AM the best player here…” Oh really? The other players' raised eyebrows tell me they don't all quite agree with you, Monica, darling!

Side note: Earlier today, Paul shared a shirtless photo of Jeff Probst on Facebook and intimated that I and some of the other female Survivor Geeks would find that attractive. I did not. However, during the broadcast tonight, there was a commercial for Two and A Half Men, on which the shirtless Probst is appearing. In the promo, he's wearing nothing but a towel and he's holding…a platter of bacon!!! Well now, he is a whole lot more attractive with the bacon!!! Yee haw!!!!!

Vag’s Evaluation:
Well, after bitching and moaning the past few weeks, I have to give Survivor: Blood vs. Water its props. Tonight’s episode went old school and I couldn’t be happier. We were treated to two Immunity Challenges, two Tribal Councils, eating gross things and plenty of bickering and nastiness. Plus, there was very little Redemption Island, no reward feasts and NO friggin’ puzzles! Like I said, old school Survivor.

The first Immunity Challenge was the one that consisted of eating gross things. The first round was divided into two heats of six. On the menu was a shot glass of 40 mealworms. Survivors of those heats were Tyson, Monica, Vytas, Hayden, Gervase, and Caleb. Vytas was impressive as he puked up several of his mealworms and scooped them up and ate them. Tina, in defeat, was comical because she kept pulling on her ears as she attempted to get the gross delicacy down. Even daughter, Katie was amused.

The six victors then had to scarf down 3 ounces of pig intestines. Evidently none of the competitors were Orthodox Jews. The first two to finish would move on to the finals. While the others were gagging, Monica had absolutely no problem swallowing the swine innards. Surprisingly, Gervase finished second.

In the finals Monica made short work of 2 rather large grubs that were still alive and quite squirmy. She slid them down her gullet one right after the other like she had been doing it all her life. Gervase didn’t have a chance and immunity belonged to Monica.

Back at camp Kasama, it was quite apparent that it was Vytas, Tina and Katie against the rest. Vytas, sensing that he was next in line to be voted off, was very pleasant and pleaded with the alliance to be sparred for a few more days.

At Tribal Council, Vytas wasn’t quite so polite. He let the F-bombs fly. At one point he announced, “F*ck you, you voted off my little bother!” His diatribe was then directed at Monica, basically calling her an idiot. Although he had a good point, it didn’t matter, he was sent to be with his brother Aras on Redemption Island.

The second Immunity Challenge involved holding a sword on top of an inverted shield with one hand while you piled coins of various sizes on the handle of the sword with your other hand. It was Monica, Ciera, Tina Gervase, Laura and Caleb spilling their piles first, leaving Tyson, Hayden and Katie to battle it out for immunity. Remarkably, the coins of Tyson and Hayden fell almost simultaneously and young Katie had earned immunity.

It was pretty clear that Tina would be the next to go. Oh, don’t get me wrong, they tried to create the notion that there was an outside shot that Monica might be the next to be sent to Redemption Island. But I knew better, I have been watching Survivor too long to fall for that ploy. So, just as I had suspected, Tina was sent to Redemption Island to join Vytas and Aras.

Now that Survivor: Blood vs. Water has somewhat peaked my interest again, I actually have opinions of the remaining castaways. Currently, I can’t stand Tyson, Monica and Laura at all. I am indifferent with Tina, Ciera, Gervase and Hayden. I am sort of pulling for the Baskauskas brothers, Aras and Vytas. The way they interact intrigues me.

That leaves young Katie. Initially, I could take her or leave her. Especially when they fixated on how messed up her toes were. However, every since she first sported her giant nerd glasses, I have become kind of fond of her. And now that she has taken to wearing her buff like a mini skirt, well…she is my personal favorite for season 27.

Until next time…from the booth.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Coming Soon…

For my forthcoming book "More Kenosha Softball” I took a look at some of the top speed merchants, shortstops, pitchers, etc. in Kenosha. I focused on one individual in each category and provided an “all-time” list of the others. In this excerpt, I interviewed Tim Georno and discussed what made managing Tirabassi’s so special.

While Georno enjoyed playing in tournaments outside of Kenosha in places like Watertown and Manitowoc, he said that there was nothing better than playing in the Final 8 at Simmons Field. He said nothing compared to that atmosphere, “It was the best!” With that in mind, it is a given that his fondest memory occurred when his Tirabassi team not only played in the Final 8, but in the City Championship at Simmons Field.

And to think, Tirabassi’s nearly didn’t make it that far.

That’s right. After winning their first two games of the tournament, Tirabassi’s was knocked into the losers’ bracket when tournament favorite Stanich Realty crushed them by the slaughter rule, 13-1. That occurred the first weekend of the tournament! Because there were 60 teams entered in the tournament, it had to be played over a two-weekend period. Losing so early in a tournament of that size meant that Georno and the rest of Tirabassi’s had a very daunting task ahead of them.

Remarkably, with some unforeseen inspiration, they were up to the task.

On the Saturday night of the first weekend of the tournament, members of the Tirabassi team had assembled at the Sunnyside Club, a popular Kenosha watering hole. Among those discussing the team’s future with Georno were Rocky Tirabassi, Larry Carbone and Carmen Pillizzi. Having won all of their games since being destroyed by Stanich, the group was cautiously optimistic. They realized that it wasn’t going to be easy, but they were determined to get to Simmons Field.

Overhearing the Tirabassi group, a local Kenosha News sportswriter decided to join in the discussion. No shrinking violet, the writer brazenly announced that he didn’t know why they were so fired up, they didn’t have a chance to win it. Evidently he didn’t think it was likely that Tirabassi’s was going to be able to continue winning. Tirabassi outfielder Larry Carbone thought otherwise. He challenged the Kenosha News scribe boldly with, “What the hell do you know?”

Carbone was right. After that little exchange at the Sunnyside Club, Tirabassi’s turned it up a notch. Or, as Georno put it, “T’s got hotter than hell!”

The next day, Tirabassi’s stayed alive, winning its games. They had made it to the second weekend; their quest to get to Simmons Field was still within their grasp. The following Saturday they fulfilled that mission. At Lincoln Park, Tirabassi edged out Finney’s Snowblind Oasis 1-0 on a controversial home run in the 6th inning by Rich Salisbury. They had secured that trip to the Final 8 at Simmons Field. And, when they got there later that evening, they kept the train rolling by knocking off Sorensen Mfg.

The next day, Tirabassi’s beat Matador Lounge 6-3, fourth-place Oriental Inn 13-4 and third-place Finney’s Lounge 2-0. For their efforts, Tirabassi’s earned the privilege of battling their nemesis, Stanich in the finals for the City Championship. Stanich, the defending champions, roared into the finals by demoralizing a strong Finney’s Lounge team 22-7 in the undefeated game. All they had to do to repeat was win one game against Tirabassi’s.

Tirabassi’s, although on an inspired mission, still had to do the unthinkable and knock off Stanich twice. To a man, they knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Maybe that’s why sponsor Domenick Tirabassi did something that Georno doesn’t remember him ever doing before. He spoke to the team. This caught the young Tirabassi manager totally by surprise.

Georno said that Domenick Tirabassi was the best sponsor you could ever ask for. He never intervened and would always show up for the finals of big tournaments. That’s why it was so unexpected when he spoke to the team between games of the City Tournament finals. It wasn’t a fire and brimstone sermon. That wasn’t his style. With his team gathered around him, Domenick Tirabassi simply said, “I don’t care what happens in this game. Win or lose, I just want you to know that I’m so proud of you guys.”

Evidently, those two heartfelt sentences from the sponsor must have hit home with Georno’s squad, because they proceeded to do the unimaginable. Tirabassi’s, before a huge crowd at Simmons Field, upset the defending champ Stanich Realty in two championship games, 7-4 and 6-5 in 12 innings to win the 1982 Men’s City Slowpitch Championship.

I anticipate “More Kenosha Softball” being available for Holiday gift giving. If you are interested in picking up a copy of my first book, “Some Kenosha Softball”, it is currently available only at the Kenosha History Center located at 220 51st Place down by the harbor. Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Survivor 27.8

Mary Beth’s 2Cents: Loyalty, loyalty, loyalty – everyone's talking about loyalty. I'm not sure they quite know the meaning of the word but they sure do like to toss it around on Survivor.

Tonight's episode begins with poor Laura B. feeling completely hornswoggled that she has been sent packing to Redemption Island. Her depression is short lived, however, when she reads to John and Laura M. that the winner of the next Redemption challenge will re-enter the game. The losers will just go home. I was briefly excited when I saw the challenge. I wondered if my strongly worded letter from last week had anything to do with the fact that tonight's Redemption challenge was a simple test of strength. The three competitors had to hang on a pole as long as they could. This was the kind of challenge I love and was hoping for!

The competition, however, was quite underwhelming. Anticlimactic, if you know what I mean. First John struggled his way out of his shoes and slid off the pole. Next Laura B. lost her footing and hit the dirt. Laura M. won, much to her daughter, Ciera's chagrin and I thought, “Meh…who really cares about any of these people?” I, for one, do not. Ciera was apparently afraid her mother returning was going to mess up her game.

I say, let the mess begin because then maybe something interesting will happen. Then Probst announced the tribes were now merging and he gave them all new buffs. Laura M. received the clue to the hidden Immunity Idol, which, like those before her, she promptly tossed into the fire. The symbolism of that particular gesture is lost on me now. If you're given a head's up, take it. Sheesh!

Back at camp, Ciera quickly takes her mom aside to let her in on the “plan” and to tell her to not play so hard or she'll get the axe. Laura M. somehow takes this to mean she is now in a “power position” in the game. Delusional much? Tyson goes off to find the Hidden Immunity Idol, which he does, in record time. At this point, the producers might as well put up neon arrows pointing to the thing. That's how easy it is to find it. Tyson actually stepped on it while he was looking for it.

Aras and Vytas have a brotherly moment where Aras lets Vytas in on the “plan” and Vytas tells his “plan” to Aras. Tyson tries to let Monica in on the “plan” but the woman wouldn't shut up long enough to hear it prompting Tyson to think of ways to kill her. She is very annoying and if he did kill her, THAT would be interesting. She has her dirty bikini bottom in a bunch because Tina tactfully let her know that she was #5 and that should make her happy. Oh that silly Tina!

The Immunity Challenge was a glorified game of Memory. Such a lame challenge! One by one they lost leaving the brothers, Vytas and Aras, to duke it out at the end. Oh the drama! But Vytas wins and off they go to Tribal Council.

At Tribal Council, I got totally distracted by Tyson's topknot Librarian bun hairdo! What was up with that?? He looked like a skinny, white Sumo wrestler who's top know was a wee bit too tight. Probst tried to raise some interest by poking at the old “which is stronger – blood or water” shtick but it was just more chatter and, in the end, Aras was blindsided and voted off to – Redemption Island? Oh dear lord, I thought we were finally done with that pretense tonight but NO…he gets another chance to come back to the game. Sheesh!!!

Vag’s Evaluation:
Tonight’s episode started with Tina returning from Tribal Council and doing her best Laura B. impersonation. She immediately informs Monica that, while she is till in their alliance of six, the best she can finish is number five. Huh? I guess Survivor has Power Ratings now. I missed that in my Sporting News. What a dope.

At Redemption Island we are treated with Laura M., John (Candice’s wife) and Laura B. wrapped around totems poles. Whoever hangs on the longest wins and is back in the game. The other two smucks go home for good. John and Laura B. slide off first and are sent packing to be with their respective mates. Of course Laura burns the Hidden Immunity Idol clue. Great twist, Burnett.

After the duel, Probst announces that the tribes are now one. With the merge, the eleven remaining castaways are presented with lovely new purple buffs. And…you guessed it, another feast. The new tribe eagerly scarfed down sandwiches, salami, cheese and wine. Burp…

Before the Immunity Challenge, Tyson wandered off in search of a Hidden Immunity Idol. As they showed him strolling into the woods, I promptly vomited in my mouth. Am I the only one that is creeped out by those turquoise boxer briefs? Come on dude, but some pants on. Who do you think you are, Special Agent Phil?

Oh ya, he finds an Idol. At least he is smart enough not to let anyone else know that he has it. Those briefs must not be that tight.

Basically, the Immunity Challenge is a game of concentration. And Monica, Caleb, Katie, Tyson, Tina, and Hayden are quickly eliminated in the first round. In round two, Ciera, Laura M. and Gervase make a hasty exit leaving brothers, Vytas and Aras to battle it out for Immunity. Vytas wins proving that those drugs didn’t kill all of his brain cells.

When everyone returns to camp we learn two things. First, with no real explanation, the merged tribe will be called Kasmas. The other thing is that there are at least four or five alliances. Let me clarify that. Four or five “supposed” or “imagined” alliances. There is a two-word term for this. The first word is cluster. My mother doesn’t allow me to say the other word.

Tribal Council is pretty boring. If Probst wasn’t such a sneaky instigator, I think I would have fell asleep. Honestly. They blindside Aras and then Probst says something that totally pisses me off. “Aras, the tribe has spoken. But you’re not out of the game; you will now go to Redemption Island.” What the… I thought we were done with that failed twist. Man, how many more weeks are left of this train wreck?

Until next time…from the booth.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

More Flyers. Sorta…

I know that I had promised to write about the time Joe Rosko beat up a referee between periods of a Kenosha Flyers game. But after seeing what the Philadelphia Flyers did to the Washington Capitals on Friday night, I cannot do so in good conscience. In fact, it makes me wonder why I got such a thrill out of seeing Rosko kick the crap out of that game official back in the ‘70s. What was I thinking? Allow me to tell you why I had a change of heart.

Facebook friend, Herb Lawrence posted this comment Friday night: “All fighting in sports is dumb. What did this prove? Fighting should be punished by suspensions and fines.” Along with that comment, he provided a link to the incident in the Flyers/Capitals game that motivated him to make that comment. Herb is a producer at 670 the Score in Chicago. While I don’t always agree with his take on things, I always enjoy hearing how he feels about issues; and not just sports. He is an intelligent young man.

Ray Emery pummeling Braden Holtby
Okay, back to the incident that caused me to question my feelings. You can click right here if you would like to see it what went down. If you don’t care to, I will give you my account of what happened.

The Flyers were getting destroyed; the Capitals went up 7-0 in the third period. This ignited a “line brawl.” A hockey term for when all the morons on the ice square off in an attempt to prove their manhood.

This is when Flyers goalie Ray Emery, who was torched for four goals in relief of starter Steve Mason, skated the length of the ice to punch Capitals goalie Braden Holtby. Referee Francois St. Laurent chose not to break it up. In fact, he shooed away anyone who was thinking about protecting Holtby, who wanted no part of Emery.

At this point, I was having a hard time deciding who was a bigger asshole – Emery or St. Laurent. But wait; there were plenty of individuals to choose from for this not-so prestigious title. Like his teammate and even the Philadelphia radio broadcasters who tried to justify the melee because the “Flyers were frustrated.” I guess it’s acceptable to take out your frustrations on some other human being’s face.

Perhaps these jerks had a basis for their bizarre reasoning. Here’s what Emery had to say, rather matter-of-factly, to reporters after the game: “Holtby didn’t want to fight, but I basically said, protect yourself.” When asked why he and his teammates did it, he explained that they were frustrated that they were getting worked, and at home, no less. “As a group, I think it’s a frustrating night,” Emery said. “Fans are frustrated, and we don’t accept that. I think frustration sometimes shows that way.”

Okay, let me see if I have this straight. You suck at your job; you’re a total failure. Your lack of success causes the people that care about you to be disappointed in you. The way you remedy this situation is to physically assault the people competing with you in your chosen profession. Brilliant! I challenge any of you to try this at the office or plant where you work. And, please, let me know how it goes. I promise to come visit you.

A few remaining items on the lunacy that occurred Friday night. The referees handed out 114 minutes in penalties, with Emery receiving 29 of them. The Flyers goaltender was given two minutes for instigating, two for leaving the crease, five for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct to go along with a game misconduct. Four other players received the distinction of receiving game misconduct penalties.

Ironically, Emery was voted the third star of the game. Nice sport. Way to reward thug mentality. Oh ya, unfortunately Herb’s wish that fighting should be punished by suspensions and fines was not realized. For all of his nefarious actions, Emery did NOT receive any additional suspensions or fines. I guess it’s just a “part of the sport.”

The final reason that made it impossible for me to write a blog glorifying the moronic violence connected with hockey is in the graphic at the top of this blog. Scroll up and check out the young boy in the Flyers jersey using his smartphone to record the action on the ice. I wonder which is his hero – Ray Emery or Francois St. Laurent. I am willing to bet it’s not Braden Holtby.

Thanks for providing the incentive, Herb. Until Next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Survivor 27.7

 Vag’s Evaluation:

Well, Blood vs. Water continues to be less than stellar. The first 22 minutes focused on the neurotic Kat and her weepy boyfriend Hayden. The dumb little bimbette is convinced that Hayden is gonna dump her because she was voted onto Redemption Island. Huh? C’mon, Kat, the guy might resemble Jethro Bodine in more ways than one, but give him some credit.

Probst turns the unnecessary drama-meter up another notch by reminding Kat and Hayden that they can switch places. This causes more blubbering from Bugtussle’s homecoming king and queen. Finally, Kat decides to stay in the Redemption Island Duel even though Hayden said he would swap with her. Oh the humanity!

The duel pits Candice’s husband John, Laura M. and the frazzled Kat. The combatants must untie a machete, then chop a rope that releases a bag of puzzle pieces that they must assemble into a flame-looking thing. Long story short, Kat is so much of a basket case she can barely open the bag of puzzle pieces. So, despite some trumped up “Survivor” drama, John finishes first and Laura M. is second.

This means they stay and Kat can go back to Bugtussle. But not before she starts weeping again. She embraces Hayden and, in between sobs, implores him not to leave her. Her last bit of brilliance is to ask, “You’re not gonna break up with me, are you?” Don’t worry, Kat, he isn’t that bright.

The next eight minutes are consumed with the Vytas love-fest at the Galang camp. Tina is even hoping that the reformed bad boy will hook up with daughter Katie and give her some grandbabies. Laura B. is making weird faces and crying at the thought of having to vote Vytas off if they should lose the Immunity Challenge. Oh brother.

It is at this point that I have a major epiphany. Maybe it’s because I have watched A League of Their Own three times in the last ten days, but I came to a couple of conclusions. First, just as Jimmy Dugan so eloquently said, “There is no baseball in baseball”; there should be no crying in Survivor! Secondly, Laura B., Rupert’s wife, bears a striking resemblance to Rockford Peach second baseman Marla Hooch. Google her.

The only thing going on over at Tadhana is Tyson, Hayden, Caleb, Gervase, and Ciera plotting against Aras who is off meditating on top of some beautiful lush mountain top. Honest, that’s it.

It’s finally time for the Immunity/Reward Challenge. Unfortunately I am so nauseated that I can barely pay attention. The challenge is something about four castaways from each tribe chained together gathering puzzle pieces so the fifth member can try to assemble and throw bolos at a railing. Blah, blah, blah…

Of course Tadhana won. Their reward was fried chicken and all the fixings. All they could eat! Once again producer Mark Burnett missed the boat and neglected having KFC sponsor the challenge. Then again, given the poor quality of this season, maybe KFC politely turned down Burnett’s offer. By the way, Tyson made the comment, “I don’t think I’ve gone to bed hungry once.” Nice…

Prior to Tribal Council, Marla/Laura B. proudly announces to Vytas that the four girls have decided to vote him off. Monica, Tina and Katie are flabbergasted. Vytas isn’t too thrilled, either. You know what this means – at Tribal Council Marla/Laura B. is sent to Redemption Island.

The only thing we have to look forward to next week is the merge. It also looks like the winner of the Redemption Island is back in the game. Hopefully this means that the two losers are sent hope. The sooner we get rid of these people, the better.

Mary Beth’s 2Cents:

Dear Mr. Burnett,

As an avid watcher of your series, Survivor, it is with a heavy heart that I write this letter. Let me start by saying that I was psyched to hear of the Blood vs. Water theme for this season. The idea of favorites coming back to play with their loved ones was a good one. But it was a short lived thrill when, in the very first episode, the loved ones were separated from the faves AND the stupid Redemption Island thing came in to play as well. The truth is, you're using the words “fan favorites” very loosely with this bunch. I don't remember half of them and I've watched every season of this show. Then the ones I do remember are the most boring, insipid group of people ever! The only one worth his salt was Rupert and you managed to get him off the show far too soon.

Tonight, the only words that came to mind where these. OH. COME. ON!! The ridiculous made up drama coming from Kat as she burst into tears wondering if her boyfriend would now leave her because she was voted off was the most annoying staged mess you have ever presented us with. It had to be made up. No one is that stupid to think their entire relationship would be over because she “disappointed” her boyfriend by losing on Survivor. Can they? I mean is Kat that stupid? It was completely pathetic as she walked away, tossed her buff in the fire and said, “Please don't leave me…” OH. COME. ON!!!

And another thing, why are none of these people starving? Why do they get full meals at almost every challenge? When will you ever go back to the good old days of Survivor when they ate so little rice they were nearly skeletal at the end. And enough with the puzzles, already! Remember that really great challenge where they had to stand on the poles in the sun over the water. We could see their ribs and how much weight they lost. Two of them got naked for chocolate. Remember that, Mr. Burnett? That was when Survivor was good. These days they sit around talking about their relationships. Tina was even playing Matchmaker for her daughter and hoping she would date Vytas! Who has time for this crap!?

By the time it got to the Immunity Challenge, I just didn't care anymore. I didn't care who went home because they are all dullards with no personalities. They sit around and eat and, frankly, I can watch the orangutans at the zoo do that. So the debate at Tribal Council between who should go, Vytas or Laura B. brought a resounding “Who gives a rat's ass!?” from my house.

It is time, Mr. Burnett, to shake up this show once and for all and the way to do that is not to get gimmicky and add more inane twists. It's not bringing back old players either. (Unless it's Russell Hantz – because I would watch Russell forever. Best player ever!) It's not the incredibly stupid and boring Redemption Island. That needs to go and be gone forever.

No. It's none of those things.

To shake up this show you need to go back to the beginning. You need to get two tribes of strangers. And not just bikini models but a real cross hatch of characters – like the Sue Hawks, Rudy Boesch, and Russell Hantz's of the world – throw in a little Colby-like goodness and a slick Pavarti-ish creature. All ages, all sizes, all strangers, all having to get to know one another, compete against each other and trust one another to the end. Don't feed them a banquet every day. Let them forage and fish and suffer a little. Make the challenges more physical with no more puzzles. In other words, go back to basics. Go back to pure, classic Survivor. We, the audience, will still be there and, I guarantee you will not regret it. Please save our show! We're begging you!

Mary Beth, Survivor Geek.

Wow. Until next time…from the booth.