Thursday, January 31, 2013

So “The Big Game” Is Sunday…

So the word on the street is that “the big game” is this Sunday. I suppose it would be okay for me to refer to it as the Super Bowl since I am not advertising. How arrogant is that whole deal? You don’t hear the NFL bitching if a restaurant or tavern uses the “Pro Bowl” to promote an event the week prior to the Super Bowl, do you? I wonder why that is. 

Hypocritical bastards.

But that’s for another blog for another time. Today I would like to tell you how I feel about the Big Game or Super Bowl or whatever you want to call it. Okay, it’s the game being played in New Orleans that kicks off at 5:30pm on Sunday.

My new poll question reads – “How do you feel about the Super Bowl?” the choices are: Go 49ers!, Go Ravens!, Don’t care, no Packers and Don’t care, no Bears. It’s to the right of the blog, just below the archives. Because the question has only been up a very short time, there are only four votes cast and none are for the 49ers or Ravens. So far, nobody cares.

And you can include me in that group.

I was in the “Don’t care, no Packers” camp and I really don’t care. Depending on how the game is going, I can see myself turning over to American Pickers at some point Sunday night. And I’m serious about that. I can’t bring myself to root for either the Ravens or the 49ers.

Talk about the lesser of two evils.

While I am not a fan of either Harbaugh brother, Jim is easily the more repugnant of the two. I was going to say that he was douchier than his brother Jim, but that term has been overused ad nauseam. If repugnant doesn’t float your boat, try obnoxious, unpleasant, disagreeable, offensive, objectionable, repulsive, unsavory, odious, abhorrent, loathsome, insufferable, detestable, intolerable or putrid.

Take your choice, they all fit how I feel about the Harbaugh boys, but like I said, more so with Jim. After all, he is a former Chicago Bear quarterback. Under Ditka no less. I personally witnessed him kissing “da Coaches” ass after throwing am interception against the 13-Time World Champion Green Bay Packers in Soldiers Field. It was pathetic.

Therefore, based on my total disdain for 49ers’ head coach Jim Harbaugh, it stands to reason that I should be pulling for the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. Right?


First off, they were the Cleveland Browns until 1995 when owner Art Modell, being the cretin that he was, moved the team to Baltimore. Not only did he change the name of the team to Ravens in honor of Baltimore icon Edgar Allan Poe, he changed their classic uniforms to a hideous, ghastly mess. Either of these are reason enough to prevent me from supporting Baltimore, but they aren’t the main reason I will be indifferent come Sunday. No, there is something else much larger that rubs me the wrong way about the Ravens.

Number 52.

Drafted the first year of the Ravens’ existence in 1996, linebacker Ray Lewis gained notoriety for his involvement in a January 2000 fight following a Super Bowl XXXIV party in Atlanta. The fight involved Lewis’ entourage and another group of people, and resulted in the stabbing deaths of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar.

Lewis and two of his companions were indicted on murder and aggravated assault charges. In a plea agreement, the star linebacker pled guilty to obstruction to justice in exchange for testimony against the other two defendants.

Okay, I wasn’t there and don’t know what happened that fateful evening in Atlanta, so I won’t judge Lewis. I can’t. But at worst he is heartless murderer and should be in prison. At the very least he is a worthless punk who ratted on his partners to save his own ass.

Either scenario, I don’t like number 52. I don’t like his stupid dance or his newly appointed position of being the favorite football player of our Lord Jesus Christ. Poor Tim Tebow. Just suppose that 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick was a born again and pointed to the sky every time he made a long run or threw a touchdown pass. Then WWJD?

I don’t buy any of the Ray Lewis outrageous extravaganza forced down our throats and I can’t stomach the whole Jim Harbaugh persona of maximum intensity. Consequently, I will not be rooting for the Ravens or the 49ers. That is why I voted “Don’t care, no Packers” when polled on how I feel about Sunday’s Big Game.

Please make sure you cast your vote and let me know how you feel about the Super Bowl. Until next time…from the booth.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Hey! It’s Brian Noble!

First things first - I have been a Green Bay Packers fan all of my life. I was blessed having parents that brought me up that way. My love affair with the historic team from northern Wisconsin began in 1962. My favorite player was running back Paul Hornung. The reason I was so fond of the future Hall of Famer was that we shared first names, he wore number five and I was five years old at the time. Therefore he was my favorite. Hey, it made perfect to sense to me.

You might have noticed that I said my “parents” brought me up to be a Packer fan, not just my father. That is because my Ma provided me with one of my most vivid memories of the 13-time World Champions. It was on December 31, 1967. Bart Starr had just scored the go-ahead touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys in the legendary “Ice Bowl” game and Ma was sitting on the floor hooting and hollering. She was on the floor because she had fallen off the davenport with a loud cheer the moment the Packer quarterback scored.

Of course, it is a given that my Pa directed me down the straight and narrow when it came to which football team to support. His brothers, my uncles John and Joe were also there to lend a helping hand teaching me what was right and good when it came to football. It was always the Green and Gold for the Vagnoni family. But Pa was always the number one guiding force when it came to the Packers.

That is why Pa was the first one I took up with me to watch the Packers train in July prior to the season. That was in ’88 or ’89, I’m not quite sure, all those championships have somewhat blurred my powers of recall. The next year I went with my brother Mike. The following year, the Fishers joined us. After that, it was Reenie, the Szalapskis and various other friends adding to the group. It had become a tradition. And this was well before attending Packers training camp was the avant-garde thing to do. We were definitely trendsetters.

It was always a good time visiting Green Bay to watch our favorite team working out, preparing for the upcoming season. We had certain customs we observed every year, but like I said, my recollection isn’t what it used to be and the years have begun to run together. However, certain events will always stick in my mind.

It was the fourth or fifth year. The group was larger than usual. People came and left at different times. It was on a Sunday when the remaining women decided that they had had enough and they were heading back to Kenosha. Brother Mike, Vern and myself decided to stay one more day. The ladies said fine.

Except for Reenie. She wanted to stay.

The trio of us told her that we didn’t have a problem with that, but we planned on going to a “gentlemen’s club” after dining at Bart Starr’s restaurant. Her response was, “Ya, right! You guys ain’t going to a strip joint, I’m staying!” We said no problem.

After the Kenosha-bound friends had left, Reenie and the three of us went to have dinner at Bart Starr’s place. Afterward, we informed our female companion that we were now going to the Body Shop. The gentlemen’s club. The strip joint. When she realized that we weren’t joking around, she sheepishly asked us to drop her off at the motel. We obliged.

When Mike, Vern and I arrived at the Body Shop, we weren’t impressed. It wasn’t much more than a big neighborhood-type bar. The crowd was mixture of young and old “gentlemen”. There was even a table of older couples in attendance.

The dancers performed on top of the bar, stripping down to a G-string or a thong. Nothing too tawdry. Enjoyable, but not tawdry. While Mike and Vern were transfixed with the entertainment on the bar, I happened to notice three large men entering the bar. You see, I have very good peripheral vision for my size.

Upon further observation I noticed that one of the men was none other than Packer linebacker, Brian Noble. The other two I didn’t recognize. They must have been rookies that Noble was chaperoning because they were definitely players. They dwarfed Noble who stood 6’3” and weighed 250 lbs. His two companions were several inches taller and a good fifty pounds heavier.

Anyway, after determining that it was indeed Brian Noble, I poked Mike and Vern and said in a semi-hushed voice, “Hey! It’s Brian Noble!” To which Vern said, “Ya, right.” My brother gave me the “don’t be yanking my chain look.” They went back to ogling the performer seductively making her way across the bar.

Again, I prodded my associates and told them, “Hey! It’s Brian Noble!” Mike didn’t even look at me this time, just telling me to shut up. When Vern turned to admonish me, he saw the three immense men taking a seat at the bar. After realizing who they were, he shouted out, “Hey! It’s Brian Noble!” Half the bar turned to look.

I was a bit embarrassed, but not my brother Mike. Although a bit star struck, he announced that he was going up to the bar to get us another beer. He then mustered up enough courage to belly up right alongside Noble and the two rookies to order our beers.

Mike returned smiling from ear to ear with three Pabst Blue Ribbons. Composing himself, he told us that he was listening to the Packers talking at that bar. I said that’s cool, what were they talking about? He said he wasn’t sure what the rookies were saying, but they were asking Noble something. When Vern asked what Noble said to them, Mike reported that the veteran told the rookies, “Shut up, I’m watching the girl.” It was so impressive the way Noble provided the two newcomers with that sage advice. Just one more reason that I’ll always be a Packer fan.

See what you missed, Reenie? Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

This ‘n’ That

My dear friend Patty has reminded me that lately there has been quite a few From The Booth “reruns” appearing. Trust me, I am fully aware of this. However, there are several good reasons. One is that I have been dealing with that creeping crud that has been going around. I guess that’s not such a good reason, but it is a valid excuse. It’s been hard to breath, let alone think and write while your head feels like it is packed solid with phlegm and other nasty secretions. That’s why I have been “saving” the little energy I could muster for the other reasons I have been negligent. And they are good reasons.

The first reason is that I have been working on my upcoming book, “More Kenosha Softball”. Seriously working on it. I have gathered about 90% of the information and have written nine of the 32 chapters. All I need is a few more photographs and to keep writing on a regular basis. Oh ya, if anyone knows of any teams that would like to have their roster included in my book, have them get ahold of me.

The other reason is divided into two parts. Unless you have been living under a rock, you are probably quite aware that I am raising money for childhood cancer research by having my melon-like head shaved. This is being done through the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. The shaving takes place on March 14, only 50 short days from now. I have been concentrating on getting people to sponsor me for this worthy cause.

So far twenty-five kind people have sponsored me by generously making a contribution on my participant page. In order to attract more donors, I am now offering a childhood cancer bracelet to anyone who contributes. They are gold in color and read, “No One FIGHTS Alone”. If you want to help out, just click on this sentence and you will be directed to my St. Baldrick’s page. It’s easy and relatively painless.

The other part of this reason is that my next “My Turn” column was due on January 25. It will appear in the Kenosha News on February 4. So, in conjunction with my fundraising efforts, I wrote about a little boy named Charlie who passed away at age nine after battling cancer.

In the column I also mentioned that my good friend Jamie’s brother John Burhani is battling a rare form of cancer, NK T cell Lymphoma. I explained that because the cost to fight cancer is so very expensive, there is a fundraiser for him on Sunday, February 10th from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm at the UAW 72 Hall on Washington Road.

I have to tell you, that column was very tough to write. The combination of a severely stuffed-up head and sobbing uncontrollably made it very hard to breath. Or to see. Because of the story, I wanted to make sure the editor at the paper would be okay with it, so I submitted it a week early, just in case. His response was, “Thanks, Paul. Good luck with your fundraiser.” I was both delighted and relieved.

There you have it. Those are the reasons for the recent glut of reruns From The Booth. I’m not sure if things are going to change much in the near future. I have a lot of work to do on my book and I need to continue my fundraising efforts.

Hey, I just had a brainstorm! A major epiphany! Each of you can get someone to submit the roster of an area softball team for my book. Also, those of you who haven’t already done so can sponsor me in my head-shaving event. That will greatly increase the likelihood of less reruns! Plus, my head is less plugged.

Seriously though, please give if you can. Until next time…from the booth.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Rock ‘n’ Roll All Night

It was Friday morning at Koos Inc. and later that night I would be attending my very first Rock concert with Harry, Munk, Weber, Sluga and several other Koos luminaries. We were going to see KISS at the MECCA Arena in Milwaukee. The only problem was getting our supervisor to allow us to leave two hours early at 3:30 so we could cash our checks and wash off the Koos stink before the show. After much pleading and a promise that we would definitely be at work at 6:00 a.m. the next day, we finally got the okay. We were going to see KISS!

I wanna rock and roll all night and party every day…

Weber picked me up promptly at 5:00 in his small blue sub-compact with Harry and Munk already stuffed into the backseat with a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon. As I attempted to squeeze my large frame into the small vehicle, Munk shouted at me, “Where’s your wine Puddles?”

Smiling, I reached inside my jacket and produced a chilled flask full of Boone’s Farms finest. “Oh, you already put it in the flask!” was the response I received. With that, we made our way up I-94 with Munk and Harry attempting to pour wine into their flasks as we all chugged ice cold PBR.

I wanna rock and roll all night and party every day…

Forty minutes later, with the all the flasks filled and the case of beer consumed, we pulled into the enclosed parking structure just west of the MECCA Arena. With all that beer in my bladder, I needed to make quick work of the three-block journey that separated me from a restroom in the Arena.

That problem was immediately eliminated when I noticed that Weber, Munk and Harry were standing over a drain in the corner and were in the process of unzipping their jeans to relieve themselves of their Pabst. I instantly followed suit, shrugging my shoulders, wondering what I had gotten myself into.

I wanna rock and roll all night and party every day…

Feeling much better, we made our trek to the Arena in record time and found our seats just as a nondescript opening act started playing some rather mediocre music. That was okay; this gave us an opportunity to get to the concession stand to buy some  (you guessed it) more beer!

Back from the concession stand, we eased back into our seats, with the strong aroma of Cannabis permeating the air, and were bombarded with extremely loud music, brilliant pyrotechnics and Gene Simmons’ bloody tongue. Enjoying the show, we filled our now empty beer cups with the wine we had smuggled in. Beer, my first concert, more beer and now wine. What more could an 18 year old guy ask for?

I wanna rock and roll all night and party every day…

After the show ended we stepped out into the cool Milwaukee night and met up with Sluga and his “uncle”. After a quick critique of the concert, it was decided that it was much too early to go back to Kenosha and that we were going to a trendy local nightspot. Having no say in the matter, I wondered to myself how we were going to make it work the next day.

The club was an enormous 2-story structure whose name escapes me. Hey, it was 34 years ago, what can I say? I do remember Sluga’s “uncle” challenging another guy to a game of foosball and ripping his shirt open, causing the buttons to fly everywhere. Oh yes, and we also drank some more beer.

I wanna rock and roll all night and party every day…

After a couple of hours, the four of us had had enough and we said good-bye to Sluga and his “uncle”. Glancing at my watch I noticed it was 1:30 a.m. hopefully I could get three hours of sleep before work. That idea was quickly put to rest when Harry announced we need some more beer for the ride home. I just shook my head as Weber obediently pulled off of the Interstate in pursuit of a new supply of alcohol.

Finding a neighborhood tavern, Weber hopped the curb parking on the sidewalk just outside the front door of the establishment. He quickly jumped out and ran inside. With a six-pack under his arm, he ran out just as quickly, screaming, “They’re rednecks! They’re going to kill us!” Our small car sped away into the darkness just as a large contingent of angry locals emerged from the bar, shaking their fists.

I wanna rock and roll all night and party every day…

Relieved that we had escaped the wrath of the hayseeds that didn’t appreciate our ‘70s hairstyles, we laughed at our good fortune. There was only one problem – we didn’t know where the hell we were!

Trying his damnedest, Weber could not find his way back to I-94. He turned left and we nearly ended up in Lake Michigan. When he turned around and headed west we ended up in Greenfield, but we still could not find the Interstate. Something told me the chance of me getting any sleep before work was rapidly diminishing.

I wanna rock and roll all night and party every day…

Realizing that we needed help getting our bearings, we pulled into a George Webb restaurant complete with its two clocks on the wall. Inside there was a cook, a waitress, a truck driver and a young couple who promptly departed when they saw us stumble in. We opted to get something to eat as long as we were getting directions.

Harry, Weber and myself chose to have breakfast. So did Munk. Along with breakfast he ordered a double cheeseburger, French-fries, a chef’s salad, a milk shake and a large bowl of chicken soup. Evidently he was hungry. Unfortunately he didn’t like the shade of green that the soup was, because he threw it all over the front window of the diner.

The rest of the “meal” must have agreed with Munk because upon completing it he proceeded to emit one of the largest belches that I have ever been witness to. The colossal burp obviously impressed the truck driver because he responded with, “That’s nice.”  To which Munk sprung up from his seat and barked out, “Oh ya! If you don’t like it, step outside with me and my friends.” Where were we, the old West?

I wanna rock and roll all night and party every day…

Luckily cooler heads prevailed and armed with our directions we were finally heading back to Kenosha. We were going home. Or so I thought. Even though we had just filled our bellies at George Webb’s, we had a more than an ample supply of alcohol sloshing around in us as well. The ride home was going to be adventurous to say the least.

It was at this point that I realized that I was the only one not in some various stage of unconsciousness. Regrettably, I wasn’t behind the wheel, Weber was. At one point he came to long enough to see me looking terrified, clutching onto the small grab bar located above the passenger door. He merely mumbled that if we crashed, that wasn’t going to save my ass. I knew he was right, I just prayed that I didn’t die.

I wanna rock and roll all night and party every day…

Well, happily I didn’t die and we miraculously made it home safely sometime after 4:00 a.m. As you can imagine, none of us made it to work. Not me, not Munk, not Harry, not Weber, not Sluga. Not even Sluga’s “uncle” made it. Wait, he didn’t work at Koos, so he was okay. We all caught hell and because of our irresponsible actions, nobody was allowed to leave work early for the next thirty years. Management at Koos was tough.

However, when I eventually did wake up (sometime around noon), I make it over to Midtown Records and purchased the KISS Alive album.

I pulled this one from the Koos Vault because JJ Steinhoff requested some Koos. And because I’m working on my book while fighting off the “illness”. Until next time…from the booth.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Are You Kidding Me?

Only 4 short weeks ago, Mary Beth, Jamie and myself were wrapping up Survivor: Philippines. Yes, it was only 28 days ago that Denise, the midget sex therapist was declared Sole Survivor of season 25 and took $1,000,000 back to Iowa. It seems like only yesterday.

Want to guess what’s happening in 30 days? Yep, season 26 of the award-winning reality show premiers. Survivor: Caramoan – Fans vs. Favourites opens with a special two-hour episode on February 13th. That happens to be Ash Wednesday and is the eve of St. Valentine’s Day.

I know. Are you kidding me?!?

Well, I’m not. Here are the two tribes, complete with a short bio and a “Vag’s Evaluation” about each contestant.

Gota Tribe – Fans

Back Row: Hope, Eddie, Allie, Michael and Julie
Front Row: Matt, Reynold, Sherri, Laura and Shamar
Laura Alexander (23)
Washington, D.C.
Administrative Officer
Vag’s Evaluation: Look for her to go deep into the game. Also, she’s easy on the eyes. Very easy. I just hope RC doesn’t read this…

Sherri Biethman (41)
Boise, Idaho
Fast Food Franchisee
Vag’s Evaluation: Anyone who has their own fast food joint can’t be all bad. Unfortunately, a personal issue at home might make the game too tough for her emotionally.

Matt Bischoff (38)
Cincinnati, Ohio
BMX Bike Sales
Vag’s Evaluation: Dude, you ain’t Rupert. I don’t see Matt hanging around very long. He’ll be back home listening to ZZ Top before you can say, “La Grange”.

Hope Driskill (23)
Jefferson City, Missouri
Pre Law School
Vag’s Evaluation: Blonde hair, blue eyed pre-law school student with a pretty smile. Been there, done that. Next…

Edward “Eddie” Fox (23)
Brunswick, New York
Vag’s Evaluation: This guy is almost too perfect. Hunky fireman who is outgoing, competitive and hard working. Plus, he is definitely eye candy for female viewers. Wait, I found a flaw. His favorite Survivor contestant is Boston Rob. He’s done.

Julie Landauer (21)
Stanford, California
Racecar Driver
Vag’s Evaluation: Not sure about this one. She might have potential, but the racecar thing makes me think of Danica Patrick. And that’s not a good thing. Danica’s abrasive personality has always overshadowed her good looks for me.

Alexandra “Allie” Pohevitz (25)
Oceanside, New York
Vag’s Evaluation: Another pretty little blonde. Her bio on the CBS site had this tidbit: Allie was asked if you could have 3 things on the island, what would they be? Her answer was: Eyeliner, Hair Detangler and Crest White Strips. Okay…

Michael Snow (44)
New York, New York
Event Planner
Vag’s Evaluation: The guy is an event planner. Okay. For some reason, I picture him running around the island waving his arms in the air shouting, “people, people!” That being said, he probably has a strong social game.

Shamar Thomas (27)
Brooklyn, New York
Iraq War Veteran
Vag’s Evaluation: A big, burly Marine who fought in Iraq. I have the utmost respect for these guys. Regrettably, they typically never do well on the game of Survivor. Except for Shambo…

Reynold Toepfer (30)
San Francisco, California
Real Estate Sales Man
Vag’s Evaluation: Another fellow for the female fans to swoon over. Looks like the total package. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hanging around for quite a while.

Bikal Tribe – Favourites

Back Row: Corinne, Phil, Malcolm, Francseca, Erick and Brenda
Front Row: Dawn, Brandon, Andrea and Cochran

Andrea Boehlke (23)
Previous Season: Redemption Island
New York, New York
Entertainment Host and Writer
Vag’s Evaluation: A Wisconsin girl who moved to New York. What’s up with that? Like we don’t have enough culture here. Cheese is loaded with culture. Plus more blonde hair and blue eyes. Where’s my RC?

Brandon Hantz (21)
Previous Season: South Pacific
Katy, Texas
Chemical Disposal
Vag’s Evaluation: Oh great, they bring back a Hantz and it’s not Russell. All we’re going to get from this space cadet is praying, crying and weirdness. Plenty o’ weirdness.

Brenda Lowe (30)
Previous Season: Nicaragua
Miami, Florida
Paddleboat Company Owner
Vag’s Evaluation: She has loads of potential. Loads. Potential to take RC’s place on Wednesday nights for me, that is. Alas, I seem to recall she was very arrogant, snotty and didn’t play well with others. Ahhhh!!! It’s Abi!

Corinne Kaplan (33)
Previous Season: Gabon
Los Angeles, California
Clinical Consultant
Vag’s Evaluation: When asked for the 3 words to describe herself, she said: snarky, irreverent and opinionated. Wonderful. Hopefully there will be plenty of interaction between her and Brandon. Can you say fireworks?

Dawn Meehan (42)
Previous Season: South Pacific
South Jordan, Utah
English Professor
Vag’s Evaluation: Ah, the Mom from Utah. If my memory serves me correctly, she started out last time freaking out and crying that shouldn’t handle it. Then, out of the blue, she morphed into a strong competitor. Which Dawn is going to show up for season 26? Hmm…

Erick Reichenbach (27)
Previous Season: Micronesia
Santa Clarita, California
Comic Book Artist
Vag’s Evaluation: Who made this guy a Favourite? This guy was one of the biggest dopes in Survivor history. The female alliance from Micronesia had this nincompoop jumping through hoops. Get him out of there. Now.

Francesca Hogi (38)
Previous Season: Redemption Island
Brooklyn, New York
Vag’s Evaluation: She was the first castaway voted off of Redemption Island, yet she made a lasting impression on Hall of Famer Russell Hantz. Recently on Twitter, Hantz said she was one of his favorite people. High praise indeed.

John Cochran (25)
Previous Season: South Pacific
Washington, D.C.
Harvard Law Student
Vag’s Evaluation: Great, the über-geek is back. I do believe that Jamie had a soft spot for this mensch. While I don’t possess the same fondness for the nerd, I must admit he makes for interesting television.

Phil Sheppard (54)
Previous Season: Redemption Island
Santa Monica, California
Chief Executive Officer of Enter Software Sales
Vag’s Evaluation: Speaking of interesting television, Special Agent Phil is back. YES! Hopefully he will be sporting his pink drawers again. Oh baby!!!

Mary Beth’s boyfr… oops, Malcolm Freberg (25)
Previous Season: Philippines
Hermosa Beach, California
Vag’s Evaluation: First things first. I must cry foul. Why does get her boyfr… oops, Malcolm back and there is no RC for moi? It isn’t right. That being said, how can you not like him? Check out this gem from the CBS site. When asked what his personal claim to fame was, he responded, “Once spent over a month with Abi-Maria Gomes, and I’m still considered legally sane by the state of California.”

One last thing, you may have noticed that I have been spelling favorite - “favourite”. That is to pay homage to dedicated Trilogy follower, Sue Symes. She is from Great Britain, doesn’t see Survivor, yet faithfully follows via this blog. Thank you, Sue.

Until next time…from the booth.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Jackie Cut Her Finger Off!

As I diligently plowed through the mountainous pile of paperwork, I glanced at my watch. It read 6:30 PM. “Wonderful, at least it’s Friday”; I thought out loud, “48 hours down and only 15 more to go.” Such was the life of a second shift production supervisor at American Air Filter in Zion, Illinois. I let out a deep sigh as I reminded myself that at least I had a job, it could be worse. Ten minutes later this self-fulfilling prophecy came to fruition with five words.

“Jackie cut her finger off!”

Those chilling words would turn a tedious and mundane evening into a hair-raising night of drama and mayhem. But not initially.

When Kathy burst into the small cramped office and shouted those horrifying words, I looked up from my work and said, “Kathy, don’t f*ck with me, I’m in no mood.” I honestly thought she was messing with me. Perhaps subconsciously I didn’t believe her, knowing what chaos would ensue if it was true.

She then shrieked a second time, this time much louder, “Paul, I’m serious, Jackie cut her finger off!”

Before I could respond, a quivering Jackie appeared in the doorway holding a blood covered left hand. A multitude of crimson splatters covered her white top and were an extreme contrast to the ashen hue of her terrified face.

Evidently, while Jackie was adjusting the plastic film in a packaging machine, Kathy thought she heard her say to turn it on. When she mistakenly started the machine, the tip of Jackie’s left middle finger was chopped off.

I immediately guided the injured employee to a chair in the middle of the office. She was trembling and sobbing uncontrollably. Steve, my maintenance man, came rushing into the office and murmured, “Oh my God.”

As I attempted to get Jackie to hold her bloody hand above her heart, I told Steve to call 911. By then, a small crowd of employees had gathered outside of the office, trying to see what the commotion was all about. I quickly told them to take an early break.

Steve hung up the phone and told me that the rescue squad was on the way. Still doing my best to calm the panic-stricken Jackie, I directed Steve to go to the front entrance so he could direct the paramedics to our department when they arrived. As he was scurrying off, I barked, “Tell Victor to get over here!”

Moments later, Victor, the supervisor of the high-speed production area, skidded to a stop on his golf cart outside the office. “Holy shit” were the first words out of his mouth. My glare made him aware that I needed help, not added drama.

Kathy was providing all the extra drama I could handle at the moment.

While Jackie bawled hysterically and tried to catch her breath, Kathy was screaming at her, “It’s my fault, I turned the machine on!” Tears smeared her mascara as she continued to screech, “It’s all my fault, hit me, Jackie, hit me!”

Obviously this wasn’t helping the situation at all.

I instructed Victor to take the distraught Kathy to the lunchroom, get her a Coke or something and calm her down. I just wanted her out of there. Jackie was frantic enough without Kathy adding to the turmoil.

Thankfully, the paramedics showed up as Victor was escorting Kathy from the office. As one asked me for details, the rest of the emergency medical crew began administering first aid to Jackie.

As the EMTs tended to her severed digit, they also attempted to control her frenetic breathing. Seeing that they no longer needed my services, I grabbed a piece of gauze and I excused myself from the office.

As I briskly walked over to the machine where the accident had occurred, I kept my head down, eyeballing the shop floor. A quick inspection of the east side of the machine proved fruitless. Determined, I continued my search to the other side, just hoping…

Yes, there it was! I had found what I was looking for.

Bending over, I used the gauze to carefully scoop up the small portion of jagged pale flesh from the dusty floor. Wrapping it up, I noticed that the fingernail was still intact. Nice.

When I got back to the office, I asked one of the medical techs to step outside, making sure not to draw Jackie’s attention. She was somewhat more composed and I didn’t want to do anything to change that.

Outside the office, I discreetly handed the paramedic the small package containing the tip of Jackie’s middle finger. Somewhat surprised, he said, “Wow, you found it.” He then packed it into a small cup of ice and told me he would see what they could do, but it was probably too small to reattach.

Somewhat disheartened, I returned to the office. Jackie’s left hand was now heavily bandaged and she was being helped onto a gurney. Although her breathing was now under control, she was still trembling and had tears streaming down her freckled face.

As the EMTs wheeled her out of the office, Jackie asked me if I would go with her to the hospital and stay with her until Roger could get there. I said sure I would. Roger was her fiancé and worked in Racine, Wisconsin. It would him at least an hour to drive to St. Therese Medical Center where she was being taken.

The emergency people told me to follow them in my truck, that way I could return when Roger arrived. Before leaving I made sure that Roger was contacted and asked Victor to keep an eye on my crew until I returned. As harrowing and gruesome as this situation was, I was surprised that I had remained so composed.

That all changed the moment I got in my truck to follow the ambulance to the medical facility in Waukegan.

The gravity of what had just transpired finally hit me. It hit me like a brick. I didn’t cry. I didn’t puke. I didn’t pass out. But I did feel that I was about to do all three. I did hyperventilate for most of the 15-minute trip.

After I arrived, I was able to regain my composure and stayed with Jackie until her fiancé showed up. Thankfully, the remainder of the night was event free. On their way home, Jackie and Roger stopped by the plant to let everyone know she was okay. No one was happier than Kathy to see her.

Sadly, the doctors were not able to reattach the piece of Jackie’s finger that I had recovered. She did, however, receive a considerable compensation check from American Air Filter’s insurance company. Shortly after the accident, Jackie married Roger, albeit with a left middle finger that was now 1⁄4” shorter.

When all was said and done, I guess Kathy was right – Jackie cut her finger off.

I hope that you enjoyed this classic from the American Air Filter Vault. Until next time…from the booth.

Friday, January 4, 2013

My NFL Prognostication Results

Back in September I boldly forecast the regular season winners in each of the eight NFL divisions. With the playoffs beginning tomorrow afternoon, I thought it would be interesting to see how close my predictions were.


EAST – I said the Patriots would run away with the division. And they did. I also thought the Bills would be a surprise and vie for a wild cart spot. And they did not. They sucked as bad as the Jets and Dolphins did.

NORTH – I called for the Ravens to come out on top, edging out the Steelers. They Ravens did indeed win the division, but the Steelers finished. Surprisingly, the Bengals won a wild card spot.

SOUTH -  “Texans, Texans and more Texans” is what I predicted and I was correct. What I didn’t see was the upstart Colts finishing 11-5 and qualifying as a wild card team.

WEST- I really missed here. I thought that the Chiefs would win the division with the Broncos and Raiders battling it out for a wild card spot. The Broncos ran away with the division, winning their last 11 games. The Raiders and Chiefs combined for a measly 6 wins. Oh well.


EAST – If you like how bad I messed up the AFC West, you’re going to love how poorly I did here. I said the Giants would win the division, the Cowboys and Eagles would fight it out for a wild card spot and the Redskins would finish at the bottom of the heap. Well, the Giants, Cowboys and Eagles will all be home watching the ‘Skins play on Sunday.

NORTH – I correctly predicted the Packers taking the division based on the vaunted Aaron Rodger led aerial attack. I thought the Lions would qualify as wild card participant, but was wrong. The Vikings took that honor on the strength of Adrian Peterson’s 2097 rushing yards. The Bears still suck. Sorry, I had to.

SOUTH – This was a mixed bag for me. I thought the Saints would overcome their off-field problems and take the division with the Falcons grapping a wild card spot. The Falcons won the division going away with the Saints finishing a distant third.

WEST - I knew the 49ers, behind its defensive squad, would come out on top. I even predicted that the Seahawks with Russell Wilson at the helm would give the 49ers a fight for the top spot. I didn’t see the Seahawks garnering a playoff spot as a wild card team. But I was spot on predicting the Rams would finish third with the listless Cardinals team finishing a distant fourth.

I even went so far as predicting how the playoff games would go. I jumped straight to the Conference Championship games. Here’s what I wrote:


The Texans knock off Tom Brady and the rest of the Patriots, 37-28 in Houston’s Reliant Stadium. Matt Schaub hooks up with Kevin Walter late in the game to put the game out of reach. Schaub’s performance earns him MVP honors and puts the Texans in the Super Bowl.


On an unusually warm January day, the Packers destroy the 49ers, 42-17 on the not-so frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. Jordy Nelson, with three touchdown receptions is the MVP. Clay Matthews and B. J. Raji lead a stubborn defense and Green Bay is headed to New Orleans in February.

Remarkably, the four teams I have in the Conference Championship games all quailed for the playoffs. Unfortunately, because of seeding, they would meet in the Divisional round of the playoffs, not in the Championship games.


My Super Bowl prognostication could still come to fruition. This is what I posted back in September:


What was supposed to be an offensive shootout turns out to be a defensive struggle with the Packers scoring a hard-fought 17-14 victory over the Texans on the synthetic turf of the Superdome. The Vince Lombardi trophy returns to Titletown. Charles Woodson becomes only the eighth defensive player to garner an MVP award. The defensive back picked off two Schaub passes, returning one for the game-winning TD.

See, I didn’t do too badly. I must remind you, before you race off to call your bookie and put a few shekels on the Pack going all the way, DO SO AT YOUR OWN RISK! Until next time…from the booth.