Sunday, September 29, 2013

Such A Deal

It soon could cost 49 cents to mail a letter. This past Wednesday, the postal Board of Governors said it wants to raise a first-class stamp by 3 cents, citing the agency’s “precarious financial condition” and the uncertain prospects for postal overhaul legislation in Congress. The independent Postal Regulatory Commission must approve the rate proposal. If the commission accepts it, the increase would become effective January 26, 2014.

It’s only 3 cents, so what’s the big deal? Well, to hear some people, you would think it is. These are the folks that bitch and moan every time the USPS has a rate increase. To those people, I say, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” Let’s see them get a letter from Kenosha, Wisconsin to St. Paul, Minnesota or Farmington Hills, Michigan for a half a buck. Plus, get it there in two or three days.

Personally, I think it’s a tremendous deal. Priority Mail is an even bigger bargain. For less than $6.00 I can ship my book anywhere in the United States. And, I don’t have to leave the house to do it.


Recently, my longtime friend Karen messaged me in Facebook that she wanted to purchase a copy of Some Kenosha Softball. I received her payment in the mail late on Tuesday afternoon. At 8:30 Wednesday morning, I went online to schedule a Priority Mail pickup and to print a paid postage label. At 8:40 I was done and 20 minutes later the book was packed and the label was on the box, ready to be picked up by Mailman Mike.

Here is the itinerary for that package:

Picked up – Kenosha, WI on Sept. 25 at 4:12 pm
Dispatched to Sort Facility – Kenosha, WI on Sept. 25 at 6:21 pm
Processed at Sort Facility – Oak Creek, WI on Sept. 25 at 7:36 pm
Depart Sort Facility - Oak Creek, WI on Sept. 25
Processed at Sort Facility – Anchorage, AK on Sept. 27 at 11:48 am
Depart Sort Facility - Anchorage, AK on Sept. 27
Arrival at Post Office – North Pole, AK on Sept. 28 at 6:48 am
Delivered – North Pole, AK on Sept. 28 at 11:31 am

Did you notice the final destination? The North Pole in Alaska! All for only $5.15. Such a deal. Map Quest figures that the 3,417-mile journey would take approximately 58 hours and 19 minutes by car. The estimated fuel cost my 1995 Dodge Dakota Pickup truck would be $709.50.

Let’s see, $5.15 and I don’t have to leave the house or $709.50 and I have to drive for nearly 2 and half days… It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out which one I would choose. And did choose.

The United States Postal Service is an outstanding bargain. I have a suggestion for those unfortunate people that are so strapped that an extra 3 cents would put them in financial ruins. Buy a bunch of Forever stamps at 46 cents each before January 28. If you buy a roll of one hundred you would be saving a whopping $3.00. Just think, you could mail 100 letters all over the United States for only $46.00, even to North Pole, Alaska. Such a deal.

Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Survivor 27.2

 Mary Beth’s 2Cents

Tonight's episode of Survivor started with Marissa slowly making her way to Redemption Island. She's pissed, and rightly so. She knows that her Uncle Gervase is to blame for her being there at all. I did get a smile out of Candice telling her she was probably voted off because she called Culpepper out when he made the remark about wanting to make sure his wife had a tarp if she needed it. Not really, Candice. She was voted off because she is a girl in a world of testosterone over at Tadhana. Girls are not long for that tribe, but more on that later.

At Tadhana, on Day 4, Culpepper feels great! He's fishing and swimming and is really content knowing that the males outnumber the females, so he's not going anywhere for a while. John is conflicted and feeling some regret that he didn't switch places with Candice. He briefly feels bad but then starts flexing and the feeling goes away.

The women of Tadhana leave something to be desired and not in a good way. They just can't seem to see any further than their own noses. Their dwindling number doesn't phase them at all. They happily believe that the menfolk are being honest with them and they are some how aligned with the men. Especially Rachel who is following John around like a puppy. She does express some insight when she mentions that she thinks the others are strategizing but that thought quickly leaves her and she doesn't think about it again! One of the other women mentions, in passing, that Rachel might have an alliance with John but she forgets about that just as quickly. I tell ya, not a full brain among them!

As they all came together on Redemption Island, Marissa, still a wee bit angry, lets Gervase have it! Her Uncle is unimpressed and won't switch places with her before the challenge but, instead, tells her to “mind your business”. Her business being using a long fork to weave spools through a wire maze and then stack them on top.

Rupert, Candice and Marissa get down to that business with a vengeance. Probst spends a lot of time cajoling, cheering on and shaming both Candice (the first to win) and Rupert (a bull in a china shop). He can't hold it together and Marissa sneaks in with the second win, which subsequently sends Rupert packing and keeps Marissa in the game.

I have to say, I like this Marissa chick. She has chutzpa and she came to play. Prediction—if she can hold on and get herself back to the real game, she will do well! The winner of the challenge, Candace, gets to give anyone she wants a clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol. Of course, she gives it to her hubby, John. No big surprise there.

When they return to camp, the men start talking about Tyson being the strongest player on the other team. Now, I'm not sure how that happened because I remember Tyson as being pretty much a follower and not a leader at all. I don't remember him winning a lot of stuff and I do recall him making some crazy mistakes. Still, they decide if they lose the Immunity Challenge they will vote off Rachel, his girlfriend. They think he'll switch places with her leaving a hole in the Galang tribe. It is an interesting idea.

At the Immunity Challenge, where they are also playing for some cool fishing gear, there will be three people bound together who roll a barrel carrying another person to four stations where they untie a bag of balls. Then, when they get the last bag, they play a glorified version of Baggo. The first tribe that gets all 6 balls in the holes wins.

Clearly, both tribes want to win and they are literally neck and neck throughout this race. Then, just near the end, Tadhana gets a slight lead! Hayden starts tossing the balls and is making really good progress but over at Galang, Gervase is right on him! So very close, but Gervase is slow and steady and gets the win! He's also an ass and starts yelling, “That's for you, Marissa baby!!” Really? I mean…NOW he wants to honor her? Jerk…

Back at camp, no one can really be too down. Tadhana played hard and it was a clean win on Galang's part. The men start talking and the women are still not getting the fact that they are being picked off one by one. Ciera gets a shady clue when John tells her they're all voting for Rachel but he's telling Rachel to vote for Ciera. She doesn't like that her name is being played with and convinces Kate to write down John's name. Vytas is worried that John is too worried about saving Candice at Redemption Island than he is about going forward in the game with his own tribe.

At Tribal, Jeff Probst does not pull any punches. He's a master at getting right to the quick. He points out that the women are outnumbered and questions whether or not that worries them. Not surprisingly, they acknowledge they see the dwindling numbers but don't seem all that worried! They are the most sheep-like players ever! Probst also points out that John might be a target now since he has the clue for the Immunity Idol. He didn't seem to realize he had a target but looked a bit worried when he heard that! He also looked perplexed when his name got written down twice during the voting which seemed to be merely a symbolic effort on the women's part because, in the end, Rachel got voted off!

It's going to be interesting to watch these newbies. They all think they have some idea how this game is played because they've heard their loved ones talk about it but, from what I've seen so far, they are still very green and have much to learn!

Vag’s Evaluation

Okay, beginning this week, in true Survivor style, Mary Beth and I have decided to throw a twist of our own. She has probably already explained that she will be concentrating on the Tadhana (Loved Ones) Tribe, while I handle the Galang (Returning Players) Tribe. We thought it would be fun to try something new. Man, I got screwed right out of the box! Before I explain why I feel that way, let me give you my initial observations of this second episode of Survivor: Blood vs. Water.

As the show opened, the Galang Tribe was in some funky massage ritual disguised as some sort of conga line. Well, at least it was boy—girl—boy—girl. Unfortunately, that left Colton out. This would set the tone for the rest of the show, at least from the Galang perspective. Plain and simple, that boy doesn’t fit in because he doesn’t want to fit in.

My other early observation was much more positive. There is a fourth Wizard of Oz munchkin still living! That’s right, although it was believed that only Ruth Robinson Duccini, Jerry Maren and Margaret Williams Pellegrini were the only “little people” left from the 1939 classic, another has been discovered. It’s none other than Tina from the Galang tribe! Did you see her talking to Kat and Monica? She’s lucky if she’s 3-feet tall. Seriously, that woman wasn’t that diminutive when she won Survivor: Australian Outback.

Okay, with that out of the way, I had better explain why I feel that I was screwed right out of the box tonight. Initially, I was perfectly satisfied with covering the Galang Tribe. That was until the duel at Redemption Island took place.

With both tribes in attendance, Candice, Marissa and Rupert competed to see who would be the first castaway eliminated in season 27. They had to stack 10 spools using a long metal fork that had to be guided through a maze thing. The first two finishers remained on Redemption Island and the third place finisher was sent packing. As an added bonus, the winner got to choose who received a Hidden Immunity Idol clue.

Candice and Rupert jumped out to an early lead. Regrettably, the big, burly pirate’s pile toppled when he attempted to place the tenth spool on his pile. This gave Candice an easy first-place finish and allowed Marissa to hang on to see another day. Just like that, one of my all-time favorites was gone, the first to be knocked out of the game.
But at least he stayed classy to the end. When Jeff Probst asked Rupert if he now regretted having switched places with his wife Laura, he shook his head and replied, “This is a great game and I love Survivor, but I love my wife more.” That, my friends, is a real man.

The same cannot be said for Colton. What a jerk. He has not changed a lick. He is easily one of the most unlikeable competitors that I have ever witnessed on Survivor. Tired of his petulant, beeeotch-like antics, Aras declared, “Colton is a gay Russell Hantz.” I don’t know who should be more upset with that statement, gays or Russell Hantz.

The Immunity Challenge also featured a reward—fishing gear. The challenge was basically a combo of barrel rolling and skee-ball. Laura was the lady in the barrel for Galang and did an excellent job of untying the knots and grabbing the bags of balls. Once they had all the balls, Gervase dominated the skee-ball portion of the challenge. As pathetic as he was last week, he was that outstanding this week. once again, Galang was immune from going to Tribal Council.

Because Tadhana went to Tribal Council, I’m sure that Mary Beth covered those events. However, before closing, I need to pose my question of the week to all my Fellow Survivor Geeks. Why did Tyson have his arms wrapped around Aras while he was sitting behind him at the campfire? Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

Until next time…from the booth.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Booth’s Best

Currently the Kenosha News is running its annual reader’s choice for the Best of Kenosha County poll. The poll include such categories as Best Pizza, Best Burgers, Best Landscaper, Best Hospital and Best Bakery to name a few. So, in that vein, I have decided to post the Booth’s Best for 2013. It’s not very scientific; it’s just that I’m kind of bored at the moment…

Best Kenosha Pizza
Casa Capri

Best Kenosha Alderman
Rocco LaMacchia Sr.
Patrick Juliana
Tod Ohnstad
Michael Orth
Daniel Prozanski

Best Kenosha Softball Uniforms

The 400 Club
Pitts Decorating
Stanich Realty

Best NFL Uniforms

Green Bay Packers
Oakland Raiders
Indianapolis Colts
Kansas City Chiefs
Chicago Bears

Best NFL Linebackers

Ray Nitschke
Dick Butkus
Jack Lambert
John Anderson
Lawrence Taylor

Best Green Bay Packers
Vince Lombardi
Bart Starr
Paul Hornung
Brett Favre
Aaron Rodgers

Best Milwaukee Brewers

Robin Yount
Paul Molitor
Prince Fielder
Jim Gantner
Gorman Thomas

Best Game Shows

Match Game
Family Feud
Newlywed Game

Best TV Shows
The Wire
The Sopranos
Northern Exposure
Leave it to Beaver

Best TV Moms
Kitty Foreman
June Cleaver
Carla Tortelli
Carol Brady
Peg Bundy

Best TV Dads
Red Foreman
Tony Soprano
Ward Cleaver
Frank Costanza
Andy Griffith

Best Survivor Castaways
Russell Hantz
Rupert Boneham
Roberta “R.C.” Amour
Oscar “Ozzy” Lusth
Colby Donaldson

Best Movies
Bang the Drum Slowly
We’re No Angels
Breakfast Club
Slap Shot
My Cousin Vinny

Best Bands
The Who
Dropkick Murphys
The Rolling Stones

Best Sausages
All-Beef Hot Dog
Fresh Kielbasa

Best Pasta

Best Italian Deli Meats
Genoa salami

Okay, that’s 17 categories and the last three are about food. That’s a good sign that I should stop. Besides, now I’m bored with this. Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Survivor 27.1

Here are the Survivor: Blood vs. Water Tribes

Galang - Returning Players

Aras Baskauskas – Panama – Exile Island
Candice Woodcock Cody – Cook Islands, Heroes vs. Villains
Colton Cumbie – One World
Gervase Petersen – Borneo
Kat Edorsson – One World
Laura Morett - Samoa
Monica Culpepper – One World   
Rupert Boneham – Pearl Islands, All-Stars, Heroes vs. Villains
Tina Wesson – Australian Outback, all-Stars
Tyson Apostol – Tocantins, Heroes vs. Villains

Tadhana - Loved Ones

Vytas Baskauskas – Aras’ brother
John Cody – Candice’s husband
Caleb Bankston – Colton’s fiancĂ©
Marissa Petersen – Gervase’s niece
Hayden Moss – Kat’s boyfriend
Ciera Morett Eastin – Laura’s daughter
Brad Culpepper – Monica’s husband
Laura Boneham – Rupert’s wife
Katie Collins – Tina’s daughter
Rachel Foulger – Tyson’s girlfriend

Mary Beth’s 2Cents
As the 27th season of Survivor started up, I could hear Jackie Gleason's voice in my head saying, And away we go!” I had a gut feeling that this season was going to be good and if this premiere episode is any sign, it is! Right from the get go, there was a twist. As the experienced players and their loved ones arrived to their destination they were made to spend one night in the jungle – just the two of them. No supplies, no shelter, no fire, no food, no nothing!

Then, if that wasn't enough, once they all came together with Probst they are told they are playing against each other on opposite tribes. As they separate, Brad Culpepper makes a big gaff by telling Probst he might do something to make sure his wife was safe – like if there was a tarp as a reward – which did not sit well with his new tribes mates. He knew immediately that he messed up!

There were a lot of long faces and sad good byes as they formed two tribes but the loved ones look hungry. They came to play! But wait, Probst wasn't finished with the surprise twists just yet. Before they did anything else, each tribe had to vote someone off their tribe. This is unprecedented. I don't ever remember something like this happening before.

Galang – the experienced players, vote off Candice. Tadhana – the newbies, vote off Laura, Rupert's wife. Then it was announced that they were going to Redemption Island! At this point, Probst challenges Rupert, who once said he would do anything for his wife, and asks him if he would trade places with her. Rupert doesn't even hesitate! Which got me upset, and his tribe mates, upset. Me, because he's one of my favorite players and now he could be leaving too soon. The tribe, because he's also a workhorse that can supply them with strength and food. Probst asked Candice's husband the same question but he decided not to switch places. So Rupert and Candice are off to Redemption and Laura is part of Galang. All this in the first half hour!

Once they are back at camp, Laura is determined not to be intimidated by the veterans. Tyson, who learned a thing or two from Boston Rob, quickly gets a fire going and the rest all dig in to make shelter, gather water and start cooking. Things are looking good at Galang.

At Tadhana, they're making head way on a shelter but cannot make fire at all and without fire there is no food or water. So they suffer a hungry night. Though I have to mention each tribe had a crate full of gear waiting for them which, again, is not in the spirit of the original show! No one really suffers on Survivor anymore.

At Galang, Monica and Colton have a “let's just get along” moment where they put the past behind them. Not too sure Colton has really changed his spots though. He spent some times around the campfire talking about growing up gay in the deep South and breaks down into tears. In fact, Colton cried a lot on this first show. Maybe a little too much.

At Tadhana, Culpepper starts analyzing the game and decides to make an alliance with all the men, which would give them the numbers to vote off the women. He's a bit forceful right off the bat, which made me think “Too soon, Dude!” Usually, those forceful ones don't last that long.

Meanwhile, at Redemption Island, Rupert is taking is easy while Candice is cooking, cleaning, building fire, and just doing all the work. She's not happy about it either but Rupert's no dummy! He's purposely saving energy for the upcoming challenges. Ah, I love Rupert. The only thing better than having Rupert back would be if they had two Hantz's on the show!

At the challenge, which was for Immunity and fire, they had to swim, leap, dive, untie, row and complete a puzzle to win a prize. Katie and Ciera thought it would be fun to go head to head with their mom's at the puzzle. Gervase…wow…what can I say…Gervase struggled so much during the obstacle course that he had to be assisted on the last leg by a teammate. He brought Galang into a resounding last place and he was helped by Colton who didn't seem to know how to row a boat.

It did not look good for the veterans but at the puzzle the mom's taught the daughters a lesson in how to win. They methodically, quickly and without regrets spanked them and Galang won! The victory set Gervase on a whooping streak. He was leaping around yelling, “That's how it's done!” to the other tribe. Talk about not being a gracious winner.

The newbies were quite shocked that he would act that way knowing that someone's loved one was now going to be voted off. So shocked in fact that they voted off his loved one, which, I think, was a mistake. Marissa, Gervase's niece, had a lot going for her and if the men just rid the island of all women they will suffer in the end. There always has to be a mix of brain and brawn. The veterans know this and would not likely have made the same decision. I can't wait to see what twists happen next week! This is going to be a great season! 

Vag’s Evaluation
Boy, oh boy, what am I supposed to write about? I posted a “cheat sheet” at the top of the blog, so everyone, including yours truly, knows who is who. Hopefully, my partner in recapping, Mary Beth has gone over the details of the shocking opening twist, so I won’t. All I know is that my favorite returning player, Rupert, ended up on Redemption Island in the first 15 minutes of the show. And that’s only because he is a really man and not a pussy like Candice’s husband, John.

The first show of a season is always weird because we have to get to know the new castaways. Well, in season 27, because of the format, we only need to get to know half of them. Due to the fact that I am at a serious loss for what to write, I will give you my first impressions of both tribes.

Beginning with the returning players that make up the Galang tribe…

Aras, I barely remember him from Panama. Let’s hope you are more memorable this time around. Candice has a bigger set than her husband. You had better watch out, Rupert. Colton is a blubbering mess. I liked it better when he was mean-spirited. Gervase shouldn’t have bothered showing up. Although she is dumb as a box of rocks, Kat could possibly be the star this season.

Laura M. falls into the same category as Aras. The big boobs will only get her so far. I like the hat that Monica is sporting. Plus, she was very kind to Colton when he was weeping uncontrollably. Rupert is one of my all-time Survivor favorites. I’m hoping that the fourth time is a charm for the lovable pirate. Tina is looking pretty old. I don’t see her lasting very long. Tyson is my dark horse pick to make it deep into the game.

Now for the Tadhana tribe, the newbies, the loved ones…

Vytas is a recovering heroin junkie. He has been clean for 14 years. I wish him good luck. He’s going to need it with this tribe. See my comment for Candice when it comes to John. Dude needs to grow a pair. Fortunately for Colton, it looks like this isn’t a problem with his fiancĂ©, Caleb. It will be interesting to see who goes home first, Marissa or her uncle Gervase. Let’s see, Hayden won Big Brother and is now he’s dating Kat. What did second place get?

I haven’t figured Ciera out yet. What was the point of revealing that you had your first baby when you were in high school? Brad is a marked man. Not only is he a stud, but Probst is calling him by his last name, “Culpepper”, not unlike Donaldson and Cochran. Laura B. is Rupert’s wife. Therefore, I suspect she comes from hearty stock. Katie’s mother, Tina looks pretty old. Rachel looks like she could have hung around with Vytas 14 years ago.

That’s all I got, except for two questions that I need answered. First, does Redemption Island come furnished with both fire and a finished shelter? And, secondly, how could the Tadhana be drinking water when they didn’t yet have fire? Fellow Survivor Geeks, help me!

Until next time…from the booth.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Rewards of the Writing Process

The graphic is to illustrate the basics of the writing process. I chose this particular graphic because it illustrates the steps in a concise and simple manner. Planning, drafting, editing, revising and publishing—the one word conspicuous by its absence is “writing”. Kind of of ironic, huh? Sometimes writing just doesn’t get the respect it deserves.

Currently, I am in between the revising and publishing steps of the writing process of my second book, More Kenosha Softball. Today, the Publisher Lady and I finished putting chapter 4, “Rick Flocker, Speed Merchant” into book form. That makes a total of 28 pages complete. Only 19 more chapters to go…

This book has been a lot of work, much more than my first effort, Some Kenosha Softball. But you know what? It’s going to be worth it. In fact, it already has been.

I first realized this when Gregg Hansen made a comment on Facebook regarding how much time I had been spending on the book. He told me that he hoped that I am rewarded for all of my hard work. I found that very kind of Gregg.

It also made me think about the whole writing process. The more I thought about it, the more I recognized that this process was much different than with the first book—much different. And, it was also much more rewarding.

That is what I told Gregg on Facebook, that I was already being rewarded.

The first book I wrote was made up of a lot lists with several short stories. Most were very short. Each chapter averaged only 540 words. There were only three over 1,000 words, the longest being 2,143. By comparison, chapters or stories in my second book average 1850 words with six over 2,000, two of which are over 4,000 words.

Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of my first book, very proud. I learned so much about writing, about the writing process. That is why this second book is going to be so much better, because of what I had learned from the first.

The most important thing that I learned from the first book was the manner in which I gathered the information. I’m not sure which part of the writing process this falls in, maybe somewhere between planning and drafting. Wherever it fits in, I discovered it is a continual thing. It’s an ongoing part of the process.

Most importantly, this step is best done in person. That’s the rewarding part.

Having Jack Zimmerman sitting on the couch for two hours telling colorful tales about his wild playing days and then having him call me back the next day and sharing 45 minutes more going over what he forgot to tell me the previous day. That’s the rewarding part.

Meeting with Ernie Pascucci, Tom Blaziewske and Larry Keating to exchange old photos and newspaper clippings. Having my friend Bruce Meyers, who was also greatest ballplayer I ever managed, come over and spend the better part of a Thursday night reminiscing. That’s the rewarding part.

Talking on the phone with Kenosha Softball Hall of Famers Gary “Wizard” Petersen and Chuck Lange to hear their tales about the good old days. Speaking on the phone with young stars, Travis Clark and Mike Umscheid as they traveled to Michigan for a Major Level Tournament, so that I could get their view on today’s Kenosha Softball. That’s the rewarding part.

I’ll never be rewarded financially for all of the time and effort I am putting forth while writing More Kenosha Softball. I knew that going in. The average writer, actor, artist or musician is never compensated the same way an auto mechanic, assembly line worker, plumber or dental hygienist is. Sad, but that’s just the way it is.

What isn’t sad is all of the gratifying experiences that I had while engaged in the writing process. That truly is the rewarding part. Until next time…from the booth.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Some Survivor Stuff

With Survivor: Blood vs. Water right around the corner, I thought that I would shoot out some Survivor stuff for all of my Fellow Survivor Geeks.

Survivor by the season with winners:

Season 1. Borneo – Richard Hatch
Season 2. Australian Outback – Tina Wesson
Season 3. Africa – Ethan Zohn
Season 4. Marquesas – Vecepia Towery
Season 5. Thailand – Brian Heidik
Season 6. Amazon – Jenna Morasca
Season 7. Pearl Islands – Sandra Diaz-Twine
Season 8. All-Stars – Amber Brkich
Season 9. Vantau – Chris Daughtry
Season 10. Palau – Tom Westman
Season 11. Guatemala – Danni Boatwright
Season 12. Panama – Aras Baskauskas
Season 13. Cook Islands – Yul Kwon
Season 14. Fiji – Earl Cole
Season 15. China – Todd Herzog
Season 16. Micronesia – Parvati Shallow
Season 17. Gabon – Robert “Bob” Crowley
Season 18. Tocantins – James “J.T.” Thomas, Jr.
Season 19. Samoa – Natalie White
Season 20. Heroes vs. Villains – Sandra Diaz-Twine
Season 21. Nicaragua – Jud “Fabio” Birza
Season 22. Redemption Island – Rob Mariano
Season 23. South Pacific – Sophie Clark
Season 24. One World – Kim Spradlin
Season 25. Philippines – Denise Stapley
Season 26. Caramoan – John Cochran
Season 27. Blood vs. Water – ???  

Here is a collage of 16 all-time Survivor greats. How many can you identify?

And finally, if Mark Burnett ever wants to cast another Survivor: All-Stars, here are my top 20 candidates:


Roberta “R.C.” Saint-Amour
Sue Hawk
Brenda Lowe
Amanda Kimmel
Parvati Shallow
Sandra Diaz-Twine
Jerri Manthey
Jenna Morasca
Tina Wesson
Amber Brkich


Richard Hatch
Colby Donaldson
Boston Rob Mariano
Rupert Boneham
Jonathan Penner
Oscar “Ozzy” Lusth
Benjamin “Coach” Wade
Russell Hantz
Phil Sheppard
Malcolm Freberg

As always, comments and opinions are always welcome! Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

It’s That Time Again!

Season 27 is here! Survivor: Blood vs. Water premiers two weeks from tonight on Wednesday, September 18. Former players, Gervase Peterson, Tina Wesson, Rupert Boneham, Aras Baskauskas and Monica Culpepper are all back with loved ones. Plus, Redemption Island returns – with a twist. And, for the first time ever, total time spent on the island will add up to more than 39 days!

Rather than writing a short bio of each competitor, I am posting photos. Comments and predictions are welcome…

Dating Couple, Tyson Apolstol and Rachel Foulger

Brothers, Aras Baskauskas and Vytas Baskauskas

Married Couple, Laura Boneham and Rupert Boneham

Married Couple, Candice Cody and John Cody

Married Couple, Monica Culpepper and Brad Culpepper

Engaged Couple, Colton Cumbie and Caleb Bankston

Dating Couple, Kat Edorsson and Hayden Moss

Mother and Daughter Team, Laura Morett and Ciera Eastin

Uncle and Niece, Gervase Peterson and Marissa Petersen

Mother and Daughter Team, Tina Wesson and Katie Collins
There you have it, the entire cast of Survivor: Blood vs. Water. I don't know about you, but I can't wait! Until next time…from the booth. “OY LULI-LULI-LULI”

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Labor Day Tradition

Happy Labor Day, everyone. I hope you all are able to enjoy this great American holiday with family and friends. Today is the day honor the nation's working people. Most Americans consider Labor Day the end of the summer, for many students it marks the opening of the school year. For me it brings back memories of my first Labor Day.

Being a creature of habit, I have decided to continue a tradition. This marks the 3rd annual posting of the blog that chronicled “My first Labor Day.” 

My first Labor Day was June 9, 1975, four short days after I graduated from Tremper High School. This was my first grown-up job. Sure, I had worked at Howard Johnson’s and Burger King while I was in school, but those were high school jobs.

I had a job as a laborer at the infamous Koos Inc. fertilizer/ice melter plant. This was a bona fide, real-life job where I went to work each morning five days a week and for this I received a paycheck for $91.18 each and every Friday afternoon.

The amount of $91.18 was after taxes were taken out. My gross pay was $120.00 for forty hours. Insert your own joke here.

Hey, I said it was a real-life job, I didn’t say it paid a lot. For my $3.00 an hour I got to lift 40-pound bags of fertilizer in a hot, sloppy plant with slippery mud covered floors. In the winter we were treated to 50-pound bags of ice melter in a building that had no heat whatsoever. Although we were freezing, at least the floors weren’t muddy. Now they were covered with a toxic dust that you inhaled all day long.

Did I mention that Koos Inc. featured no running water? Most guys simply stepped to the nearest open dock door to relieve themselves. Otherwise, if you wanted to use an actual restroom you had to maneuver through the entire plant, walk down a long flight of stairs and go across the yard to the “Jap Shack”.

The “Jap Shack” was nothing more than an old storage shed with a few beat-up lockers, a couple of picnic tables, a number of rats and a toilet with a sink. This venerable structure received its colorful name because it allegedly held Japanese war prisoners during World War II.

Don’t ask me, I just worked there.

And so did a multitude of fascinating characters. People like Virgil Tucker, Dead Man, Bone Head, Stretch Babic, Munk Ekern, Tyrone Walker and Ziggy Gutowski. Each one possessed unique characteristics. They obviously had to, with monikers like those. They all left a lasting impression on yours truly.

But none like the legendary Arno Schubert. I could easily write a story about Arno each day for a month. This ornery “old” German was well known in every drinking establishment between here and Paddock Lake. I say old because he was about 36 and I was only eighteen years old at the time.

The only problem about sharing stories about Arno is that it would take so long to clean up the language. With Arno, cursing was an art form. He made Dice Clay, Earl Weaver and other high-profile foul mouths look like choirboys. Let me give you an example.

Because of his propensity for filthy phraseology, he was often asked to “watch his mouth”. One classic moment is when a burnout named Lanny challenged Arno that he couldn’t go the whole day without cursing. Arno’s response? Cover your ears mother.

“F*ck you, you stupid motherf*ckin’ c*cks*cker.”

That was one of the things that I learned on my first Labor Day. How not to talk! Koos Inc. made me realize why Emil and Milly Vagnoni had been drilling that stuff into my head throughout my childhood. Now I was experiencing why in my first real-life job.

On that first Labor Day, I honestly considered making a run for it during first break. I often wonder how my life would have been different if I had. Do I regret not quitting Koos Inc. on my first Labor Day?

Probably, because I ended up working there for over sixteen years. Things would have definitely been different. Maybe better, perhaps not. Who knows? One thing that I am sure of, staying at Koos Inc. on my first Labor Day has provided me with a mountain of material for future columns.

Until next time…from the booth.