Friday, August 22, 2014

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 fell 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.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I Need A Real Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!

After throwing away two hours last night and another sixty minutes tonight, I have decided to pull the plug on NBC’s “I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!” Over the course of the next few weeks, I will undoubtedly tune in from time to time, but tonight is the last time I will waste any significant time writing about this horrible excuse for a reality show.

I am through having this show offend my senses. The only thing that made me even think about continuing to write about this ignominious failure was when Stephen Baldwin was “baptizing” the insipid Spencer Pratt in the river.

Unfortunately Baldwin didn’t do us all a favor and drown the slimy creep. Perhaps Baldwin can be granted a “mulligan” for “Slap Shot 2: Breaking The Ice”, but this cannot be forgiven.

You’re Not Celebrities…Get Out of Here!

Seriously, the Pratt Brats had to be kidding when they declared themselves “Super Celebrities”. In the “Celebrity Spectrum” they barely rank ahead of Frangela, who I had never heard of prior to this show and Sanjaya who I vaguely remember from American Idol.

The rest of the cast isn’t much better. Patti Blagojevich. Enough said. Sure Janice Dickinson was a super model - Forty years ago! Now she is more famous for appearing on shows like this.

Stephen Baldwin’s main claim to fame is being one of the acting Baldwin brothers and turning to God. After his performance on this show he had better ask for forgiveness.

John Salley, former NBA star, is still somewhat relevant in that he is currently one of the hosts of "The Best Damn Sports Show Period" on Fox Sports Network. Torrie Wilson’s “stardom” is a little dimmer since she no longer wrestles and hasn’t posed naked in quite a while.

For my money, the biggest celebrity on the show is Lou Diamond Phillips. Besides the considerable amount of films and TV shows that he has appeared in, he is also the subject of Punky Bruiser’s favorite joke.

Who is Punky Bruiser? 

She was my favorite performer on A&E’s Rollergirls. Rollergirls was a thirteen episode 2006 A&E Network reality show examining the personalities, antics and motivations of the women involved with the Austin, Texas Lonestar Rollergirls roller derby league. She skated (and still does) with The Holy Rollers.

Now that, my friend, was quality reality television. So much so, I even purchased the entire series on DVD and the complex Punky Bruiser was the best! A hardnosed competitor, she would have kicked Heidi and Spencer’s collective ass twenty minutes into the first program. She is one tough cookie.

Punky Bruiser

During Rollergirls we learned that outside of the rink, it was a different story for Punky. While roller derby had definitely boosted her confidence, she still felt a bit lost. She worked as waitress and had a part-time gig at a clothing store, but didn’t really know what she wanted to do with her life.

One particular episode revealed that Punky had a secret desire to be a standup comic. That’s when I first heard her favorite joke. I chuckle just thinking about it. I would be remiss if I didn’t share it with you.  Here it is:

Q: What did one Lou Diamond say to the other Lou Diamond?
A: It’s Lou Diamond!!!

Punky Bruiser. There’s a real celebrity. Where’s that Rollergirls DVD? Until next time…from the booth.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What’ll You Have?

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

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

Let’s get back to the summer of 1975.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That was 39 years ago. For the next ten years I continued to consume Pabst Blue Ribbon on a regular basis. Sometimes on a “more than” regular basis.

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

Happy 39th anniversary to you Arno Schubert, wherever you might be. More importantly, happy 29th anniversary to me. Until next time…from the booth.