Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Breadman

Today's blog was inspired when Blond Girl e-mailed some of us to relate our earliest memory in life. My memory isn't as sharp nowadays. In fact, I don't remember Blond Girl, though she says I commented on her blog. I comment on so many blogs I don't remember. But I do have some blurry memories of my early childhood and one in particular causes me to smile.

When my parents lived in our first house, we were the traditional family with dad going to work and mom staying home with the family, which was just me at the time. Back then, it was common to get visits from door-to-door salesmen and delivery people--the Fuller Brush man, Avon, milkmen and even Bible salesmen. But my favorite was the bread delivery guy.

One of my earliest childhood memories recalled when the bread guy came to our house. This bright young man brought with him his portable display case overflowing with frosted rolls, cupcakes, luncheon desserts and sweets of all types. And when he set it down, it was all at eye level to a toddler like me. Heck, there was no reason to go to the grocery store any more. We had it all right there. I was in awe.

When I visited my folks recently, I recalled my memory of that young bread delivery guy for them. Listening, my father leaned forward as he folded his hands across his lap, looking both curious and suspicious. "We never had any breadman," he said. My mother quickly agreed, saying that we had eggs and milk delivered way back when, but no bread.

Now if I were an instigator, I might have followed up. "Don't you remember, ma? The breadman came on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the plumber on Mondays, the masseuse on Wednesdays, and the gardener on Fridays." My mother said that some businesses delivered bread and it was possible some guy stopped by to show off his wares, trying to build his route. But she didn't recall anything like I remembered.

Well, no matter. I'm sure it happened. It's one memory that I'll always have with me. Now I'll just have to remember who Blond Girl is before my wife gets too suspicious.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Dr. Moody Speaks

Hello. I'm Dr. Moody. And this is my blog. Some people call me a puppet, others a dummy. I prefer puppet. I'm a good friend of Big Dave. He asked me to write this blog as he is going camping for a week. I went camping with the family once. Campers would walk by and stare at me, and I'd stare back at them. That got old really quick. I didn't go camping after that.

Oh, I've had my fun. I used to tease the younger son about his appearance, or his last performance on the football field. And the kid and I would tussle, sometimes kind of rough. He broke my glasses one time. I used to wear glasses. Not anymore. Big Dave says he doesn't want to invest in a new pair.

There was the time I had a guest at the house. Flat Stan was a cardboard character concocted by an elementary school teacher out in South Dakota. Her vision was that Flat Stan would travel across the U.S. with folks taking pictures of him at landmarks along the way. Big Dave photographed Flat Stan and me at his bar downstairs, throwing back a couple drinks. I don't think those pictures made the final scrapbook of adventures, especially since Stan came from a Catholic school.

Then I was in some videos Big Dave produced with his sons and nephews, including a hip version of the Sleepy Hollow legend. I was the schoolteacher who hired Ichobod Crane in The Legend of the Headless Horse, Man. Then one time Big Dave and I were alone at home and he filmed us lip-synching "I've Got You Babe." I was Sonny, he was Cher. But then Big Dave's brother-in-law suggested that video not be shown outside the family. Not sure why but sometime after that Big Dave put me in the closet, on top of his accordion. I've pretty much been there since, until now.

So that's my blog. Hope you liked it. Have a nice day. Now back to my accordion.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Just Desserts

Summer is for desserts. Everyone has their own favorite dessert. Carrot cake, cheesecake, cupcakes, chocolates, caramels, cotton candy, Charleston Chew (favorite candybar), custard, creme brule, cherry jubilee, crepe suzette, coconut cream pie, cinnamon roll with extra icing, cookies . . and those are just some of the "C's".

Think back to your childhood and remember how sweets were linked to your happy times: trick or treating, your birthday cake, the confections at the county fair, picking out cookies at the grocery store, waving down the ice cream vendor on the street, buying your favorite box of candy at the theatre . . .

When I was a kid, we patronized those old dairies with the long counters, the shine of stainless steel and the stools where you could sit and spin. They didn't have the fancy flavors of today, but if you coaxed the soda jerk, he might experiment on your behalf. I remember getting a lemon lime milk shake that way. Aachhh. Not something that you'll likely find at your local whippy dip.

One of my god awful good favorites was strawberry shortcake, with garden fresh strawberries and home baked shortcake cooked by mother herself. The shortcake had a crust to it, so you had to let the strawberry juice melt in a little bit to soften it up. It still was crunchy but crunchy sweet.

I believe it's because of our taste for old-fashioned sweets that you're likely to find old-time ice cream parlors around today, though Farrell's has pretty much disappeared. Remember, Farrell's with the peppermints, the pig's trough and the long-winded waiters who loved to publicly tease the customers. My sister was intimidated by all the goings-on when my wife and I first brought her to a Farrell's. When she asked how to find the lady's room, my wife, always the wag, said, "It's over there but you have to bang a big bass drum to get in."

You do??" my sister said very much taken in. Ahh, good times, my wife and I like to say.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

He Stole My Line

A few weeks ago I watched George Romero's Land of the Dead at the theatre. Normally, I scout the reviews before surrendering my hard-earned cash at the box office. But I'm a die-hard zombie fan, and especially of George Romero's dead flicks. I even visited in person the Pennsylvania mall where Dawn of the Dead was filmed. So when my older son Greg asked me why I wasn't waiting for the reviews to come out before heading out to the local cineplex, I told him that Land of the Dead was different. "It's an event movie. Reviews don't matter."

Event movie means like, say, Star Wars or Titanic. So this past weekend Greg was heading out to see "Wedding Crashers" starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn. I had seen previews of this movie and was dubious as to its value. It seemed more like a rental to me. So I asked Greg if he wanted me to check the Yahoo movie reviews first. He replied, "It's an event movie. Reviews don't matter."

Funny how when your kids snatch onto a bit of wisdom you supply, they twist it to suit their purpose. Greg's response reminded me of when he was just a young high schooler, maybe a freshman or sophomore. I asked him to help me move some boxes. His response was that if he interrupted his homework to help me move those boxes, he wouldn't be able to make his bedtime. When I replied that he could stay up the extra five minutes it would take to move those boxes, he chastised, "Don't get smart with me, dad." Stole my line there too. (Sigh) I always thought dispensing parental wisdom would be easier.

"Gee, dad, I never thought of that." Beaver Cleaver, from Leave it to Beaver, a fictional family comedy from long ago.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Why My New Profile Pic

I’m still new at this blogging thing. While scrolling down through my recent posts something occurred to me. There aren’t any comments. I used to get one here or there, but I’m really on a cold streak. There’s a half-dozen stories I told all with nary a response. But I think I figured it out. My old profile picture was scaring folks off. Yes, I can time the start of my cold streak to the moment I posted my profile picture of me and Minnie Mouse together.

Now, at first I figured it was Minnie Mouse, though I thought that was odd. But then a couple things happened. Number one: I was at the public library where their public computers are placed in two-person carrels. There are four computers, two at each two-person station. So if there are more than two people using computers there, you’re sitting right next to somebody, just like you were sharing a desk back in high school.

About a week ago, I was sitting at one of those carrels with an empty seat next to me. In the other carrel sat a strange-looking fellow, unshaven, with a long coat. I took him to be a homeless person seeking shelter indoors. Along came a more or less attractive middle-aged lady. Out of the corner of my eye I saw her look at me, then look at the man across the aisle. And she slides into the seat next to him!

Anyway, number two: I was sitting in my car outside a supermarket, waiting for the wife to return with groceries when my younger son starts laughing hysterically. It seems that out in the parking lot a girl about sixish was making the ugliest faces, jutting her jaw out and wrinkling her forehead. She was imitating me, my son said. Don’t know why that little girl did that. Maybe I was wincing from the sunlight. Or worried how much money my wife was spending.

So anyhoo, just in case it was my ugly mug discouraging visitors here, I have a new profile pic. It’s still me, but a picture from decades ago. Check it out. What could be more cute and appealing than a happy little boy on Christmas morning? Makes you want to comment or something, doesn’t it?

Monday, July 11, 2005

I Hate Reader's Digest

Actually, the articles are terse, informative and interesting but Reader’s Digest WON’T PUBLISH MY ANECDOTES. I’ve written several blurbs for their humor columns, Life in These United States for instance, over the years. I still have a copy of the last one I wrote. It’s a true story:

Our family drove to a planned get-together at the cabin of my parents, arriving the night before we were expected. Finding the lights out and figuring my parents had already retired to bed, we let ourselves in quietly. However, I heard my mother's voice urgently telling my father that she heard noises inside. Unable to get him to check it out, she took it upon herself to walk out of the bedroom and ask who it was coming into their cottage. The next day my mother berated my father for his cowardice, whereupon my father said, "I didn't make it through the Korean War by crawling out of my foxhole to say, 'Who's there?'"

I’ve also submitted a joke I made up myself:

Long before the Kurdish people were part of Iraq, they had their own country of Kurdistan. During one of the tribal wars then, a doctor treated a Kurdish infantryman for his wounds. The wounded man could not pay, but insisted the doctor bill him in his native town. The doctor agreed. Later, the doctor treated a horseman, who also insisted he be billed. The doctor had his assistant chisel out his bill on a slab of granite, since paper was not available. When the doctor asked his assistant to chisel out another invoice on a second piece of granite, the assistant had an inspiration. Since both the horseman and the infantryman resided in the same town, why not just chisel the second bill on the reverse side of the granite slab. Thus, the doctor’s assistant went down in history as the first man to bill two Kurds with one stone.

I heard nothing from Reader’s Digest on either. Well, not exactly nothing. By sending them my anecdotes, I ended up on their mailing list. So I get mailers every so often asking me to subscribe. I got another last week. Guess that’s life in these United States.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Camping---The Dog's Rant

This is Doogie's blog. Yes, the family dog. And I have a big bone to pick.

My master and family recently went on their annual camping trip to Silver Lake State Park, as is their custom. Now usually when they go on vacation, I get to stay at grandma's. That's fine with me. Grandma takes me on lots of walks, at all times of the day, at my request. And if I pull hard enough on the leash, I get to lead. Grandpa feeds me from the table. I have the run of the house. It's great.

Now the masters think that camping is good for me. I get to experience the outdoors like my forefathers did. Hea, there are many reasons dogs moved in with people. Bugs, dirt, rain, predators to name a few. So camping means I get tied to the picnic table. There is dirt in my water dish, dirt in my food dish. I even lie in the dirt. Ants and god knows what else crawl all over me. And there's absolutely no barking because this is a "state park." No barking?? You gotta be kidding! There could be a bear sneaking up on me because here I am ya know, a hot dog on a string. And I have to stay quiet???

Yeah sure, it's great fun for the masters. While I'm sitting in the car (they're gracious enough to park in the shade where it's only 80 degrees instead of 90), they're going for a ride in an open air dune scooter. What? Riding around with the wind blowing in your face is MY favorite thing to do! Talk about cruelty to animals. How would they like it if they were tied to the picnic table and had to watch ME swim on the beach. Sure, can't do that, because rules say no dogs within 20 feet of the beach. I'd like to bite the guy who made that rule.

So the last night we camped, my masters decided not to put the rain tarp on top of our tent, thinking it wasn't going to rain. Of course, I knew it would . . . cause dogs know that kind of thing. In the middle of the night, a big thunderstorm swept in from the west. My masters rushed out to try to put the rain tarp on. I went out with them because I figured they would do the smart thing--pack up and go home. And I wasn't going to be left behind. But they instead groped around in the rain, with only an occasional lightning strike providing them any illumination to guide them. I knew they were putting the rain tarp on wrong, because I'm a dog and my eyes see better at night. But I was already wet and muddy so what did I care. So there were puddles in the tent. To make it worse, I made sure I left muddy pawprints all over their camping beds. Well, now maybe next year instead of camping we'll go squirrel hunting, something we can ALL enjoy.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Ring Spotting

Sometimes the skills you develop in your pastimes help out in ways unexpected. I’m referring to my “change spotting” hobby of scouting for spare coins here and there.

This past Fourth of July my extended family of brothers, sisters, their children and their significant others gathered for a picnic at the home of my parents. Volleyball is our favorite game to play at these get-togethers. We set up a net and split up into sides. Rather than mark out boundaries, my nephew Vic decided that we should play on the honor system. That meant we spent as much time deciding which balls hit out as we did playing. Winning is sometimes more important than honor in our family.

As you might imagine then, these competitions are fierce. Vic plays basketball regularly in leagues and in tournaments. He was diving here and there, making some spectacular shots. But the games were close. Then Vic discovered his wedding ring was missing. Oh, oh. He’s only been married less than a year. After doing a perfunctory search, we played on. As much time as we spent diving for balls, and ending up face down on the ground, one of us was bound to see it.

But the ring eluded us. Knowing the ferocity of our spikes and digs, the ring could have flown off and ended up in the next county. Finally volleyball was done. It was a five-game match, with my side winning three, coming from behind in the last game to win against Vic’s team. Then the real search for Vic’s ring began. My wife walked the yard in her bare feet, hoping her tender soles would discover the band. Rakes were brought out. My brother crawled on his hands and knees. I searched in the next yard, my eyes sharpened to the glint of metal from years of change spotting. Then, lying right between my feet was a circle of silver. “I am da man,” I said triumphantly.

Vic was very happy to have his ring back. Somehow though, I think he would have been just as happy winning that rubber game of the volleyball match.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Wit and Wittier (Witier?)

As part of the annual evaluation process here at work, I’m required to write a “self-evaluation.” So after I told my supervisor I would be writing mine today, I asked him if there were one “L” or two in “brilliant.” My colleague overheard this and replied, “There are three “L”s but they’re not consecutive.”

Never fails. Somebody tries to be witty, and someone else tries his own snappy comeback. I remember in college seeing some graffiti scrawled on a library desk. It said, “Be back in an hour. ---Godot.” So someone else wrote underneath, “While I’m waiting, I think I’ll write a play. Now what should be the title?”

So I thought I would try it myself. Somewhere else, someone had scrawled, “Short people are the last to be rained on.” So underneath I wrote, “But they’re the first to be lost in the flood.” Well, I thought it was a good comeback anyway.

Yesterday, I saw someone wearing a t-shirt that just screamed for a snappy comeback of some kind. It read, “Never Underestimate the Power of Stupid People in Large Groups.” Not sure if it was meant to be a political statement, but I suppose on the back of the shirt it could have read, “Voat!”