Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I'm So Glad We Had This Time Together

This blog, Keep Searching For The Pearl, is finished. Last post. I'll see you on Facebook. Goodnight.

Monday, December 29, 2008

My Projected 2009 Royals Line-up

Here's how I'd fillout the lineup card next season:

1) - Coco Crisp (20 steals in 361 ABs) - CF
2) - David Dejesus (.366 OBP in 518 ABs) - LF
3) - Mike Aviles (.325 BA in 419 ABs) - SS
4) - Mike Jacobs (32 HRs in 477 ABs) - 1B
5) - Jose Guillen (158 hits in 598 ABs) - RF
6) - Alex Gordon (16 HRs in 493 ABs) - 3B
7) - Billy Butler (94 OPS+ vs. Teahen's 91 OPS+) - DH
8) - Miquel Olivo (91 OPS+ vs. Buck's 79 OPS+) - C
9) - Alberto Callaspo (98 OPS+ vs. German's 72 OPS+) - 2B
Utility - Mark Teahen (OF, 3B)

Do you care: Mark Teahen led the team with 131 strikeouts.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

KJHK - Raw Music Log

I returned to the college radio station yesterday for an alumni free-form airshift. Here's the playlist time/artist/song/album/comments pasted in from the website listing:(in reverse order)

Regular Music 7:56 Todd Newman Our College Station Then n.a
Regular Music 7:55 R.E.M. rockville eponymous
Regular Music 7:55 Flamin Groovies Yes I am n/a
Regular Music 7:49 Big Dipper Loch Ness Monster Supercluster
Regular Music 7:46 The jam Start! Sound Effects vinyl
Regular Music 7:42 The Stranglers Dagenheim Dave No More Heroes
Regular Music 7:39 The Embarrassment Two Week Vacation Heyday
Regular Music 7:39 The Eat Communist Radio n/a
Regular Music 7:34 The Replacements Left of the Dial Tim Like bein in church
Regular Music 7:29 Psychic Archie No Sex Before Love Unreleased Demo
Regular Music 7:28 The Balancing Act She Doesn't Work Here Curtains
Regular Music 7:28 Lori Wray / Jay Orff Daisychain of Dandelions Glenburn
Regular Music 7:27 Cleaners From Venus Girl on a Swing n/a
Regular Music 7:27 Ramones Beat on the Brat n/a
Regular Music 7:11 The Leatherwoods Proof Positive Topeka Oratorio
Regular Music 7:10 Loudon Wainright III The Swimming Song Attempted Mustache
Regular Music 7:09 The Embarrassment I Only Want a Date Blister Pop
Regular Music 7:02 English Beat Best Friend n/a
Regular Music 6:49 Von Bulows Linda For a Day Unreleased Single Thanks Lori Wray
Regular Music 6:48 Chris Whitley I'm in Love With a German filmstar n/a
Regular Music 6:47 The Applejacks I Go To Sleep n/a
Regular Music 6:46 No Trend Teen Love n/a Out of Print
Regular Music 6:31 The Go-Betweens The Clock n/a
Regular Music 6:30 Brian Eno Golden Hours Another Green World
Regular Music 6:21 Big Dipper Homosapien n/a A Pete Shelley cover
Regular Music 6:08 Psychic Archie Every Time It Hurts Unreleased Demo
Regular Music 6:05 The Feelies Dancing Barefoot n/a
Regular Music 6:01 The Inmates Thought I heard a heartbeat n/a thanks Jon Harrison
Regular Music 5:58 The Plugz Electrify Me n/a
Regular Music 5:56 Sunny and Klaus Ice Bags n/a Thanks Mike, Lori
Regular Music 5:53 Yo La Tengo You Tore Me Down n/a
Regular Music 5:47 Devo Uncontrollable Urge Q: Are We Not Men
Regular Music 5:40 The Vapors Here Comes the Judge n/a
Regular Music 5:39 The Flamin' Groovies Way Over My Head n/a
Regular Music 5:38 Todd Newman I'm going on vacation n/a
Regular Music 5:38 Rank and File Lucky Day Sundown New Copy of Vinyl here!
Regular Music 5:37 Psychic Archie No Pictures of Dad n/a Thanks Jason Willis
Regular Music 5:36 black olive salty bite n/a
Regular Music 5:23 Game Theory Like a Girl Jesus n/a See
Regular Music 5:19 Gang of Four Return the Gift entertainment!
Regular Music 5:16 The Embarrassment Godfrey Harold Hardy Heyday
Regular Music 5:16 Ghosty Dumbo Wins Again n/a
Regular Music 5:15 Wednesday Week You Wanted me to hang around n/a
Regular Music 5:06 New York Dolls Lookin for a Kiss n/a
Regular Music 5:05 the fleshtones right side of a good thing n/a
Regular Music 4:55 casey dienel doctor monroe n/a
Regular Music 4:51 Adam and the Ants Antmusic n/a
Regular Music 4:50 Get Smart! They Walk in Pairs Action Reaction
Regular Music 4:45 Bedroom Walls Your Idea of a Holiday n/a
Regular Music 4:42 Minutemen Green River n/a Live
Regular Music 4:42 Rolling Stones Come On n/a
Regular Music 4:33 Von Bulows Silent Film Unreleased Thanks Lori Wray
Regular Music 4:32 The flamin' groovies Yes it's true n/a
Regular Music 4:29 lions and dogs Tell me Another n/a Thanks Jade Gurss
Regular Music 4:27 The Embarrassment Sex Drive/Pants Down/Gibberish Heyday
Regular Music 4:21 tommy keene highwire days n/a not a furs cover
Regular Music 4:17 comsat angels it's history n/a
Regular Music 4:13 big dipper lou gehrig's disease n/a
Regular Music 4:08 pedaljets lookin out my window n/a
Regular Music 4:06 Pylon Crazy n/a
Regular Music 4:05 the plugz achin' n/a Fowler Jones begins

Friday, December 26, 2008

My Day - 12/26/08

I'll be broadcasting from 4pm to 8pm on 90.7Fm KJHK. It's part of an alumni weekend broadcast special. Tune in if you like 80s alternative music. Thanks to KJ PM Nick Spacek for putting me on the schedule.

The website has an Internet stream. Check it out. I'll be posting my playlist online too. We used to crib it on paper in the old days. No more! It's electronic. These kids.

I'm motoring over to Mission, KS for the 8th annual holiday postmortem party at the Clarette Club on Martway, starting at 9pm. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll kiss your 401K goodbye as we gather to reflect on the year and look ahead to the Obama regime. Skaal!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Oxide Flake

Oxide Flake is the newest web project from long time Lawrence area music fan, historian, and scene eye witness Jason Willis. He posted rare live recordings of punk rock bands from the 1980s, recorded in Kansas City and Lawrence, captured by Jason himself when he was but a wee lad of 14 and thereabouts. Enjoy.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Bowling Report for December 15th

We bowled our best three game series of the season and swept the night against Our Savior of Coca Cola. Brent bowled a 600+ series and Tim added a couple of 200+ games. We had a potential jello shot frame nullified when all five bowlers struck in the same frame, a rarity indeed.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Ruta Lee - Hollywood Star

Remember when big stars made cameos on I Love Lucy and The Lucy Show? William Holden or John Wayne popped in and Lucy freaked out. The studio audience applauded like mad and I received a Hollywood education. I knew who John Wayne was because his movies aired frequently on local television. I learned who William Holden was later when I saw Sunset Boulevard and Stalag 17 in high school. He was A-list all the way.

Top drawer talent wasn't always available for Lucy sitcom cameos. Ruta Lee received the same treatment when she appeared. She got fawning Lucy, voracious applause, you know, the complete star turn. Who the heck was Ruta Lee? Game show hostess, Love American Style player? She was the perfect example of someone who was famous for something once, and that something got lost in all the follow-up filler. (Note: Wikipedia lists over 100 TV star and guest star credits.)

I feel the same way about Ruta Lee and religion. Other people thought Ruta Lee was important when I was young, then I learned more about Ruta when I grew up and rejected her status. I appreciate Ruta Lee now more than I used to. Ruta Lee succeeded in a competitive business. She does charity work. She's a peace loving Canadian. There might be Ruta Lee fanatics who invoke her name in crazy causes, but don't blame Ruta.

We need a Ruta Lee holiday. If there's a reason for the season, then I say, put a little Ruta Lee under your tree this year.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

R.I.P. Captain Tony

Anthony Tarracino died this week at 92. Visitors to Key West, Florida knew him as Captain Tony. His bar, around the corner from the current location of Sloppy Joe's on Duval Street, was reportedly the original location of that famous bar, and if Hemmingway drank there, it was at that locale. He was the best known character, except for Jimmy Buffett, in a town of characters and nobody went to Key West without hearing his name. My Audio Reader business card is stapled to the wall, along with a million others, in the bar that still bears his name, though he sold it nearly 20 years ago which was the last time I saw Captain Tony, tooling around in a small car with his face painted on the side.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Christmas Carols

Tonight was our fourth year of singing Christmas carols at a local nursing home with the cub scouts. I don't sing very often and I don't sing at church but I have no problem belting it out at the nursing home. We walked among the cooridors and saw the nimble and the non-responsive. It was sad and uplifting at the same time. Somewhere between the nurse call alarms and the smiles and the vacant eyes was Christmas.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Fashion Trend: Elementary School Neckties

2nd grade boys in a Lawrence, KS public elementary school started a new fashion trend: neckties!

Monday, December 01, 2008

This Story Shall The Good Man Teach His Son

I got an email from Craig last week. His son's basketball team drew the Monday night practice assignment. Coach Craig was out until February. Tim sent his regrets today. A head cold kept him away. Kurt's back hurt. He was iffy before I sent news via email of our reduced ranks. Plus we were on the schedule against the first place team. I made calls, sent email, tried to round up the usual suspects for substitute action without luck.

Then regulars Jay and Tyler heard the call and hustled in. Kurt gave it a try on his sore back, more vertical, less muscled, with good results, best of the season. Those guys stepped it up in the clutch and anchor Brent bowled his best series of the year, 600+ pins. I recovered from last week's season low 84 to post a 205 and a 510 series. We bowled our best team series of the year, 1180. It didn't matter that we lost three of four. Cue the trumpets - we happy few, we band of brothers, we came together.

He that bowled this day, and sees old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Bowling night:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on league night.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember in Ernst
What strikes he rolled that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Big Pants Pete, Edgar Winter FrankenMullet,
Westhoff and Jones, Baker and Rollins,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Video - Coyote

This Joni Mitchell song played on our Oread home turntable (930 Ohio) a million times during the 85-86 school year. I've heard two other versions of it, there's the original studio version (not bad), and another live version on a Joni Mitchell record with a jazz arrangement (not so hot). This version, captured live as part of the documentary, The Last Waltz, is my favorite. Thanks to Nik Huffman for posting a link to it on my Facebook wall.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Video - 1986 Lawrence Opera House Exterior

A brief look at the Opera House, now Liberty Hall, in downtown Lawrence, KS.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

25 Years Later

I attended the Shawnee Mission North 25 year reunion Friday night at The Other Place bar in Olathe, KS. We chatted, drank, and reminisced for five and half hours. The bar reserved a large section of tables for the group. I didn't realize the management decided to proceed with their regularly scheduled karaoke program.

I don' t have anything against it. I'm pro karaoke, believe me, but the volume was deafening. I asked the squat karaoke maven to turn down the volume. We reunion people were there to talk and we didn't require music or extra entertainment. She refused. The manager, who was busy with regular bar/restaurant duties, said he'd see what he could do, and did nothing. I lost the karaoke battle. I looked at the microphone and some of our reunion people were singing along to David Alan Coe and Salt N Pepa. Perhaps I was was wrong about the added entertainment value.

I had a blast at the reunion, despite the karaoke loudness. 75 classmates, plus assorted guests and loved ones, toasted one another, took pictures, and in some cases got re-acquainted, but for the most part, our old bonds, our previous relationships, picked up as if we'd never been apart.

This reunion was supplemental in the sense that it was put together because if we didn't do it, there would have been nothing. It was never meant to be a full-blown weekend like the 10th or 20th parties. There was no Saturday night 'hotel reception' evening with speeches and meatballs. I am grateful to Joe and Laura Campbell for taking the initiative and setting it up. The Olathe location worked well. Many alums no longer live near the old high school on Johnson Drive, west of the Mission business district.

Here's my best recollection on who attended. I may have missed a few but I think this roster is pretty accurate:

Jeanny Alt
June Audley
Kim Bagley
Pat Barry
Bryan Bird
Shelly Blakey
Joe Campbell
Ben Custer
David Draskovich
Linda Dunn
Nancy Earlenbaugh
Kim Edwards
Amy Enfield
Greg Fornelli
Dan Gadwood
Dan Garcia
Jeff Gilliland
Sally Grandgenett
Derron Gunderman
Lynn Heckerson
Joe Johnston
Fowler Jones
John Kelsh
Paul Kidder
Kenda Klemme
Angela Larson
Shelly List
Ben Lofgren
Martha Macher
Bill Moerlein
Kathy Nicholson
Jeanette O'Connell
Lora Pate
Thad Pearson
Janet Pinney
Tammy Pittman
Kim Pritchett
Betsy Proctor
Julie Robrahn
Randy Ross
Debbie Schwerdtfeger
Kim Schmelitz
Tony Schmelitz
Sarah Smith
Beth Sulzen
Carrie Thomas
Ross Thompson
Sharron Timmons
Steve Uhlmer
Sandy VonElling
Mike Wagers
Kurt Westhoff
Curtis Wilkerson
Teresa Wilson
Perry Wiscombe
Eileen Zeller

~~~~~~~~~~~ Other guests
John Courtney
Rick Passantino
Terry McCallum
Roger Anderson
Steve Parker

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Bowling Report for November 10th

Routine night at the bowling alley with the usual assortment of strikes, spares, cocktails and laughs. We won three of four games from the second place team. Kurt and Craig contributed strong games as did the rest of us at times. I was down and up and in between - a 474 series.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Video - Nightmares

We played the Violent Femmes too much on KJHK back in the 80s in retrospect and I was a chief offender. Nobody knew they'd break through to the mainstream and that's a bitter pill for the avant garde to swallow when it happens, but never mind because it happened to better bands than the Violent Femmes.

They had a high burn-out factor, thanks in part to the over exposure on the Claire Danes program, My So Called Life. Blame the Femmes themselves. They didn't withdraw from the publicity. They transitioned into a bubble pop band after starting as a cynical, quirky trio with off-beat lyrics and lots of adolescent angst. I flipped past a Disney channel original program not long ago where they appeared as themselves. It was some kind of Pre-teen comedy and Gordon and the boys appeared at a record store with hilarious consequences.

My other Violent Femmes story happened about two weeks ago in Olathe. I took my son to the high school football game and the home squad marching band performed a medley of 80s songs at halftime. They mentioned all five or six artists by name over the PA system; artists like Falco, Whitesnake, Cyndi Lauper, but no Violent Femmes. They played a few bars of Blister in the Sun. The announcer introduced it as, "And who could forget this dance club hit...". Somebody in the Olathe school district is afraid of the term Violent Femmes! Doesn't that slutty move to the Disney Channel allay a small minded high school administrator's paranoia? Lameness. Either that or they didn't know who performed it, but I doubt it.

Having slagged the Violent Femmes, I still think this is a fun song.

Video - 20th Century Boy

I don't have a back story on this. I found it over at and thought it was cool, except for the excessive guitar flourish at the end, but this was made a long time ago. It's T-Rex and they rock. Enjoy it.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Meanwhile at FaceBook

I tagged my favorite Republican!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Video - Jocko Homo

DEVO and this video pre-dated MTV, although this particular copy was cribbed from music television. I remember seeing it on rock shows like Don Kirshner's Rock Concert and The Midnight Special as early as 1978, along with another film by the band for the song Mongoloid. Johnson County Telecable aired a video show Friday nights and they showed Jocko Homo and Mongoloid too. Look for a cameo by Mark Mothersbaugh's father as the general.

The song and visuals worked together to introduce young impressionable minds like mine to the concept of de-evolution and asked the immortal rhetorical question, "Are we not men?" Answer: We are DEVO. See for yourself.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Video - Homosapien

Buzzcock Pete Shelley's attempt at mainstream U.S. chart play. I remember thinking it was real new wavey, mechanical. I find it somewhat melodic now.

Oliver Hall had a big screen TV in the multi-purpose room next to the cafeteria. MTV aired as the default station on many days, at least until the soaps came on around lunch time. MTV was still a novelty in 1983. Many local cable outlets had not added it. Sunflower cablevision was an early adopter of MTV and that's where I saw this one.

Here's Pete Shelley on a typical early video set, with a cheap chroma key backdrop behind the blinds. That was a classic video move, have your singer look or sing at you through the blinds. Dig the early PC too.

Video - Big Electric Cat

I found this at the site. Another no-hits hit from mid 80's college radio. I didn't realize he released a video for this song. Michael Bassin and I saw Adrian Belew at the River Market version of Parody Hall in 1986 or 1987. He put on a good show.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Legal Tender

The B-52s song Legal Tender is one of my favorites. It didn't receive much commercial airplay back in the mid 80's (at least in Kansas City) but it found its way into my KU college experience. The video got a lot of spins on Lawrence's local video channel, TV-30, especially on Chitwood's Nocturnal Bonzai program. My buddy David Mitlyng had the Whammy! album and our pal Jackie Hadl cranked it up and sang along during one of many late nights in the Oread. She loved it. A couple years later my roommate Michael Bassin bought the record and I played it many, many times. Song For a Future Generation is great too, but Cindy never looked better than she did here.

Happy Halloween

Here's a claymation Phyllis Diller trying to undress a mummy. Scary!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Final Note on Palin - Shoes

Michael Palin that is. I noticed straight away that they cribbed the photo used for his diary cover (1969-1979 The Python Years) from a shot snapped on the Python's first American tour. The un-retouched version appeared in Kim Howard Johnson's book about Monty Python, except he wasn't wearing Timberline boots. He sported a pair of two-tone bobby-soxer shoes. Hideous really. I'm not surprised they took issue with it, but it struck me as funny. If you read the diary, check out the photo where Michael comments on his outfit referring to it as "the height of flares". You'll see the actual shoes there!

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Bowling Report for October 27th, 2008

We beat the second place team three of four games tonight at Mission Bowl. I did not bowl over 200 this week, but I enjoyed picking up my 600 pin and groovy jean jacket patches from the pro shop desk before the match in honor of my big night two weeks ago. I got a 250 patch, a 100 pins over average patch, and a 140 pins over average series patch. Check it out Bitches. Now all I need is a new jean jacket. I left my last one at Pink Flamingo in Lawrence in 1995.

I went a little overboard there on the award hambonery and the other team bowled very well despite my taunts and "which way to beach" poses with my new patches. We beat them on the total pin tally by two pins. Results are unofficial since they ran a new bowler into the mix and we calculated his handicap on the fly. I mentioned that possibility to them when I showed them the results but it did little to ease their pain. The second place team is very competitive and they didn't relish the prospect of not being the second place team next week. They did not enjoy me reminding them that to the losers go the pink copy of the score sheet triplicate.

I've got to reel it in before I lose the goodwill of the blog reading public, those non-bowling fans who put up with my weekly updates, hoping I'll post something worthwhile, hoping against hope that I'll release a short paragraph with a link or a photo or a video, something one might digest quickly without having to read through endless paragraphs of text, text, text. But no, here I go again with more self-congratulatory prose and back-slapping shirt puffery. My kingdom for a sock stuffed with horse manure. End it already.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Travel Diary - Thursday, October 23rd

Woke at 4:30am with a bout of constipation. Took two teaspoons of Milk of Magnesia and hoped for quick relief but none arrived. Read Palin until 6:30am. Did you know King Olaf of Norway was a compulsive farter. You do now thanks to Palin's cogent recording. Looks like today will be a long day at Epcot Center on only four hours rest but I will get through it.

Departed the house at 8am. I revealed the details of a practical joke I played on Joyce to Sue while we dodged commuters on I-275. Joyce left me a mailer from the Republican National Committee that outlined the defects in the Obama candidacy from their prospective. She propped it up on the end table next to the chair where I sat in the living room. It featured an Obama head shot and I tiptoed into the kitchen and cut it out with a small pair of scissors I found in a junk drawer. I thought of posting it in a picture frame somewhere but I found a better target. The Wises had a Mount Rushmore calendar on the wall next to the kitchen sink. Guess who the fifth face is?

We arrived at Epcot around 9:15am and the Magnesia Magic sent me the long-awaited signal, not a subtle signal, but an urgent signal. I saw a restroom at the entrance near the dog kennel. A security guard ran over and told us we'd have to exit and take our knapsack through the bag check area, but allowed us to use the facilities if we took turns staying outside the building with the bag. Emergency situation mitigated. Now if I could take a three hour nap.

My first Epcot experience and I was impressed with the layout and the big Buckminster Fuller Dome and the soundtrack music they piped in. We decided ahead of time to make the Soaring ride our first stop. Patrick Warburton appeared on the video monitor to relay ride information. We sat down in a harness rig with no floorboard or footholds. They swung us out and up in the air in front of an IMAX-style screen. The ride simulated flying. The rig tilted us forward as we swooped over mountain tops. A wind machine simulated a gentle breeze. There was music and lots of oohs and ahs. I got irritated with Skyler when we exited the ride. He said he didn't like it in spite of laughing along with us during the experience. He was a bit put-off by the whole Epcot venture, despite never visiting before and was determined to negatize the whole affair. My lack of sleep did little to hide my irritation. I whispered in his ear that I was not about to allow him to ruin everyones day and he'd better shape up.

Our next ride was a clam shell excursion to Nemo's underwater land of laughs and projected film bits. Where Soaring was a unique experience unlike anything I'd been on in the Disney Realm, the Nemo ride seemed Disney generic, like it would be equally at home in the magic kingdom or the animal kingdom.

We walked across the Futureworld section of Epcot Center, with the other half being the International Pavilions. The Futureworld part contained the thrill rides and opened two hours before the other half, with the restaurants, liquor stands, and cultural displays. We talked to Skyler about his disposition again. I was cooler this time and told him that choosing to have a good time or a crappy time was his decision. He lightened up after that, in part because our next stop was Mission to Mars.

We opted for the more intense experience and they weren't joking. Our ship crew consisted of the Jones family, Sue as navigator, Skyler as pilot, Leah as commander, and myself as engineer. The ship was enclosed so I have no idea how it simulated the g-forces we experienced on take-off and during evasive maneuvers, or the negative-g feeling during the outer space portion, but the transitions were quick and exciting, too exciting for the wife and I. My stomach is iron-clad but my recent dose of Milk of Magnesia made me queasy today, long before I arrived. We both came close to barfing on the visage of Gary Sinise, our mission guide, as he coached all the way to the red planet.

We trekked over to the imagination pavilion for a slow-moving tram ride. Eric Idle lit up the screen as the mad professor in residence. We also took in the Rick Moranis "Honey, I shrunk the audience" 3D glasses movie.

It was lunch time and Sue picked a French restaurant for us. I'm not sure how French the food was, but everyone liked it, the atmosphere was Parisian, and the waitstaff were real French people. We also saw a 30 minute film on the glory of France with wide screen photography and music. Very nice. Skyler was disappointed to discover "Arcade" did not mean video games in French lingo, rather it was a short hallway that led us to perfume shops.

We spent the afternoon exploring the different countries as they are in Epcot. We stopped for the drawbridge. They raised it for the fireworks ships that motored over for a show to be held later in the evening. We explored Morocco and Leah got her name rendered in the native characters, Arabic perhaps? I'm not sure. Every country featured a wine tasting stand. The American display also featured a Sam Adams beer tasting exhibit with presentations on the hour. We found a log ride in the Norwegian building and a boat ride in the Mexican section, enough to keep the kids interested.

I was impressed with the architectural touches in the various sections. The Italian pavilion had fountains, statues, and Roman columns. We made our way back to the ride section about 4:45pm and decided on the test track ride, touted as the longest and fastest ride in Disney history with speeds approaching 65 miles an hour. The track was outside and it was elevated over the entrance. One saw and heard the cars zoom by. The line was long: Our wait time was 40 minutes. They shut the ride down for five minutes before we entered the briefing station. Groans all around. We boarded our vehcile 10 minutes after they resumed operations. The ride was more than a speed loop. They took us over bumpy roads, they tested our brakes, and sent us through hot and cold tests. The speed test was the final bit of fun with a transition through a fake wall that dumped us outside, looped us around a large banked curve, through a straightaway and back into the building. We blasted off and then the ride shut down. We got stuck on the banked curve. The PA system advised us to stay in our car and wait for a ride technician to visit us if there was a problem with our vehicle. Not only were we on a 30 degree bank, but we were on an elevated track 25 feet in the air. There was a small level walk space that led to a safety stairway if needed but we waited and suddenly the car accelerated to 60 miles an hours down a straightaway before it braked and returned us to the loading bay. We bargained with the staff for another go since we got trapped on the first circuit and they agreed. All went well on the second cruise and the speed test was much more exciting without an unscheduled stop.

We bought the kids ice cream and rested. Our last stop was the iconic dome. The tram ride featured technology through the ages. It was cooler that I thought. They took a snapshot of us in the tram and worked into an interactive cartoon that showed us using futuristic technology. Judy Densch narrated.

I heard mixed reviews about Epcot but I liked it, even on four hours of sleep. I wanted to visit again. We made it back to Tampa by 8pm. I fell asleep before the end of game two of the World Series.

Travel Diary - Wednesday, October 22nd

Wednesday already. Our family vacation has moved at a fast pace. Today was our day of rest between two forays to Disney. I listened to my mother in-law spew Republican rhetoric this morning. Skyler defended Barak Obama and I played mediator. Skyler grasped more than a few campaign issues and took Grandma to task for supporting the conservative agenda in spite of the facts as he understood them. I found a newspaper insert that summarized major campaign issues and the candidates stand on each. A very even handed primer for a youngster with an interest in the upcoming national election. I presented it to him in full view of Joyce and told him to read it to learn more about what each candidate stood for. Later, Mother Wise told my wife I was brainwashing my children with regard to the election! When I pressed on this, she claimed she was kidding, but it didn't come across that way. The tone of this morning's political discussion grew contentious and I requested a TV channel change to something other than Fox News. The TV is her constant companion from 6am to 10pm.

She flipped over to CNN and they played McClain's response to an opposition remark about Western Pennsylvania being full of rednecks and hillbillies. McClain blew his chance to exploit this gaffe when he replied something to the effect of "and I couldn't agree more". We all had a jolly good laugh. What timing. (Sue's parents are both from Harmony, in Western Pennsylvania).

The Jones family left Republican HQ and the in-laws for a trip to the beach. We borrowed their car and returned to same stretch of Reddington Shores beach on the gulf where we camped out Monday. The public parking lot is next to a small section of rocks, roped off from tourists by rope and wood post. There are tough waves there and riptides. We pitched our blankets and towels on one side and the rocky obstacles made a reliable landmark by which to judge the tide. Both of our visits this week coincided with low tide and the wet sands stretched out toward the water by an extra fifty feet, a nice bonus.

Leah found a starfish and a sand dollar. She kept the sand dollar. Skyler and I threw the Frisbee. No sand castles today. We stayed for two hours. I saw the IPod girl in the parking lot on our way out clutching her car keys. She did not fall victim to a robbery as I feared on Monday. Good for her.

Home for showers and a brief rest before we made dinner plans. Joyce heard from a friend about a new seafood restaurant in John's Pass and we decide to try it. All six of us piled into Mother Wise's Buick for the 20 minute drive. I drove. We departed early, 4:45pm, but I don't recall why. We passed a sign for a local steakhouse with an early bird special that started at 2pm. Good Christ!

John's Pass is a touristy boardwalkish area of tumbledown bay side shops, bars and restaurants. Joyce did not know the name of the new restaurant or its location, two facts she revealed as I idled around the small streets of the Pass area looking for parking places. We putted past T-shirt shops, ice cream vendors, poster emporiums, biker bars, and all kinds of fried fish purveyors. This is a tacky little enclave, even by Florida standards. We parked in the main public lot, threw a few quarters in the meter and decided to explore a new high-rise building on the southwest side of the main quad. The new restaurant turned out to be a Bubba Gump Shrimp Company franchise and we ambled in and parked ourselves at a cramped table in the hallway between two main dining areas. It's not everyday that you get to sit next to a movie still of Siobhan Fallon as the smoking bus driver from Forrest Gump. I kinda dug that.

The food wasn't bad. I had a shrimp stir-fry and a couple of Vodka tonics. The other entrees were presented well, the frier grease wasn't too dark on the kids' shrimp, and when there was a slight problem with my wife's fish, our waiter apologized and took it back to the kitchen for another look at the broiler. We traded movie trivia questions with him when he returned and his charm helped us overlook the undercooked fish. He brought the kids an extra dessert and for his efforts we left him a big tip. Sue and I left the tip and my father-in-law picked up the dinner tab. The in-laws are very generous that way, in spite of our political differences.

Back home to Pinellas Park for the first game of the World Series. The Rays lost but we didn't see the end. We hustled the kids to bed and shut off the set by 10:30pm. Tomorrow is another drive across state to Disney and Epcot Center.

I tried to close my eyes early but I couldn't stop reading Michael Palin's diaries from the 1970's. 1975 was a big year for Palin and the book devoted 78 pages to it. I turned out the reading light at 12:30am with an anticipated wake up call at 7am but it would not be a restful night.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Travel Diary - Tuesday, October 21st

Sue and I took the kids to Disneyworld today. We left Pinellas Park at 8:15am, drove across Tampa Bay through town to pick up I-4 east toward Orlando, and landed at the magic kingdom an hour and fifteen minutes later. I-4 is nicer that it used to be. They added a third lane both ways and it provided a buffer zone between the idiots driving under the limit and the maniacs driving way over the limit.

Sue produced a parking pass that allowed us to park close to the monorail station. We also dug up our magic kingdom passes from the past two years. We purchased a package in 2006 for seven days at any of the Florida Disney properties with no expiration. Today was day five. The park was not crowded and we walked to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and boarded without a wait. They worked a Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow robot into the ride in several spots. We walked to Splash mountain and found a short line, same at Thunder Mountain and the Haunted Mansion.

Our next stop was the Small World ride in Fantasyland. We also jumped on the Peter Pan ride with little wait thanks to a fastpass. Sue and I found a coffee vendor near the Dumbo ride and we slurped it down in time to race the cars on the Grand Prix ride. Skyler and I were held up by a grandfather/granddaughter combo. She was steering and trying to work the gas. I guessed she was five or six years old. They stopped short so many times I yelled at the elder to at least help her use the gas pedal. They managed quite well after that.

Sue sat out the teacups ride. She doesn't like spinning rides. The kids and I waited for about 15 minutes for our turn and spun like crazy while Mom took pictures.

The gang hit the Toy Story target shooting game with the help of a fastpass. We split up after making out of the Buzz Lightyear gift shop unscathed. Sue and Skyler did Space Mountain and Leah and I took the elevated tram around Tomorrow World. She's too short for Space Mountain.

There's only one restaurant in the magic kingdom that sells Pizza. It's Pinocchio's Rathskeller. We retraced our steps to Fantasyland and shelled out 36 dollars for a couple of mini pizzas and fried chicken strips. I rate it below average on taste, but the kids liked it.

We stopped in the kiddie water play area near the Little Mermaid's grotto, where the entrance to the 20,000 leagues under the sea ride entrance used to be. We walked over to Tomorrowland for a quick stop at the spinning rocket ship ride. The spinning rides take forever to board. The time in line outweighs the payoff but the kids love them.

We rode the mini-coaster in Mickey's toon town and toured Minnie's house. Somebody cut the cheese near the parlor and sent us back in the early afternoon sun post haste. We wandered over to Adventure land for ice cream at the Dole shop and a turn on the Amazon Cruise. They employ tour guides who are encouraged to embellish the banter with jokes and puns. Our guide foreshadowed things to come when he said, "If you think this ride is boring, try the Hall of Presidents, and then come talk to me." We walked through the Swiss Family Robinson tree house and rode the Aladdin carpet ride twice.

We rode Splash Mountain again but Thunder Mountain was shut down for a repair. We missed the Presidents show and settled for another tour of the Haunted Mansion. Skyler used to love anything President related but he's outgrown it. He wasn't keen on seeing the Hall of Presidents show again, but it gave Sue and I 20 minutes of sit-down time in the air conditioning and that's a nice break. Plus, it's the only ride that has robots AND presidents. The Disney website said this ride is scheduled to be closed for several months starting November first. They have to get a McCain or Obama robot ready and also get the new president to record a HOP speech.

We stuck around for a couple more hours to avoid Tampa at rush hour. We even rode the ferry across the lake to the parking lot on our way out. Jeez, what a day. The kids gave us the thumbs up from the back seat and that made it worth the effort. We'll take tomorrow off and drive back to visit Epcot Center on Thursday.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Travel Diary - Monday October 20th

We spent the first morning of our family vacation relaxing around the house. Tampa Bay has world series fever. I read the St. Pete paper with extensive baseball coverage about the Rays big win last night over the Red Sox to clinch their first world series appearance. It starts Wednesday night here. We're staying about 20 minutes north of the stadium in Pinellas Park.

I didn't sleep great, but this is the norm for me anymore when I travel. I am camped out in the guest room / office with Skyler and his allergies woke him several times. He woke me at 6:30am with a wet blast. I stepped into the hall to visit the bathroom and saw my mother-in law. She stared at me from her recliner. She manages to see me in my underwear at least once every visit. It's good we got it out of the way early this year. I waved, stepped out of view and into the bathroom.

Politics are on her mind. She's a McCain supporter and watched Fox news all morning. My father in-law told me that Sue's brother calls once a week and any political discussion between them gets her blood up. She's trying to watch her BP and she's a heart patient too. I vowed not to initiate a discussion about the upcoming election.

Later I said "Obama" or maybe "Oh Mama" or perhaps "Alabama" and she went on a rant. She said the ACORN group intimidated bankers into making shaky loans that precipitated the banking crisis. I said the phrase "intimidated bankers" is an oxymoron. She told our daughter that Obama wants to raise taxes and take all our money. Leah looked at her like she thought he might stop by the house later with an armored car to make good. Joyce was kidding but her jokes are lost on the children. I told Leah it wasn't true. We don't make enough money to be effected under his proposed take hike for earners in the 200K neighborhood.

We went to the beach in the afternoon where Democrats and Republicans frolicked together and Skyler and Leah swam in the shallow water, picked up shells, built sand castles, threw the Frisbee, and hung out. There weren't many people there. We claimed a large chunk of sand for ourselves. I saw a young girl in a bikini get up off of her beach towel, put on her IPod, and walk away. She must have walked a half mile down the coast before I lost sight of her. I looked at her towel when we left and saw a fashion magazine and a full set of car keys. I told Sue I hoped the IPod girl didn't get her car stolen.

My father in-law drove us back to Ciega Village Phase Two in the Buick. His driving was swift and a bit perilous. He made several rolling stops, what he called "Florida stops", at residential intersections. Once another driver expected him to actually stop before proceeding. We faced off and won the deadlock.

Joyce and Sue prepared crab cakes for supper back at the house and they were excellent. We managed to avoid political talk for the most part, though Skyler seemed eager to participate in a debate.

We watched Monday Night Football. I wondered how the bowling team did tonight back at Mission Bowl and I read more from Michael Palin's book about Monty Python. Not every entry is included though Palin wrote nearly everyday. The Python entries are supplemented with select entries about his family life - his young children and his aging parents, all skillfully written.

His missives didn't dive into the writing process that produced classic sketches. He wrote, "Terry came over and we worked for three solid hours." Most writing or collab sessions were punctuated by large meals and drinks, with recurring passages that described cocktails or wine at lunch. Graham Chapman loved the big lunch. Productivity went down after such gala luncheons. I'm disappointed that there wasn't more minute detail about the sketches. Palin: "We've written six Python shows for the current series." Jesus, what an accomplishment. Expound on it. Must be the British gift for understatement.

To bed early. Sue and I take the kids to Disney World tomorrow.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Travel Diary - Sunday October 19th

My In-laws surprised me by adding a used computer to their home office complete with Internet hookup. What's even better is that I'm sleeping on a bed in the home office. I've decided to post a diary of my travels in Florida.

We flew to Florida today to visit Sue's parents in St. Petersburg. We flew Southwest Airlines non-stop to Tampa and there were no problems. We took off and arrived on time, early even. The flight was the fastest for us that we've ever experienced, 2 hours and 11 minutes, and the captain gave us in-flight updates of Game Seven of the ALCS. The kids watched Star Wars episode I on the DVD player and I began Michael Palin's diary for 1969-1979 (The Python Years)*

* It's the hardcover edition from the public library, about the size of a large Whitman sampler, and over 600 pages long. Not really a light pocket book for travel, but an engaging read.

Our neighbor Jill, who is always on the lookout for a deal or a discount, favored us with a drink coupon from the airline before we left town. Sue gave it to me and I ordered two vodka and club sodas. He brought me a full can of club soda one cup of ice with two limes, and two airline bottles of Vodka. I planned to offer the coupon for the first and pay credit for the second drink. He told me the coupon I presented was the cover of a coupon book and not a coupon at all. I explained that it came from a woman in our sub-division who doesn't drink, but likes coupons, and that well, the joke was on me. I poured the first drink and he came back from the galley with the credit card machine. Nice chap. Only charged me for one drink anyway. Hats off to Southwest air.

Arrived at Tampa airport at 9:30 pm and the place was deserted. Mass transit hubs in their off hours, with shuttered shops and skeleton crews, fascinate me. We boarded the tram from the gate to the terminal and found our luggage. My father in-law picked us up in his Buick and away we went to the I-275 causeway across the bay west to the St. Pete side. I found a radio cast of the baseball game. The Bucs were playing in Tampa at the same time and Skyler declared that he was more interested in the football game. We overruled him and listened to the Rays take a 3-1 lead over Boston.

Grandma welcomed us back to Pinellas Park and offered soup and sandwiches. She put the baseball game on and the football game too, thanks to an extra TV she set up on the coffee table next to the entertainment center. Note to self: show Joyce the wonder and power of the PIP feature on her remote.

Got the kids settled down and watched a little TV before retiring to bed in the office. Skyler was asleep when I went in. I turned on my attachable reading lamp and read from Palin's book. He's a very good writer, quite prolific, with 80% of his diary, so he claimed, left on the editing room floor before he went to press with the 600 pages of entries. Mild Spoiler: Graham Chapman was the weak link among the Pythons, due to his alcoholism, and his hedonism to a lesser degree. An excellent tome and I predict I'll have it finished before the end of our holiday. My travel reading lamp is a pain. It eats batteries on the quick - goes dim after a few hours time. It doesn't blink off though, it fades from bright to dim over an hour's time, and if I don't change the batteries the next morning, will do the same to a less extent the next time I use it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

When Holden Caufield Wants Thai Food

Take most people, they're crazy about Italian food. They worry if they get a little marinara sauce on them, and they're always talking about how many pounds of lasagna they ate, and if they find a brand-new bistro already they start thinking about how great it is and how much they like being seen there with all the other phonies. I don't even like Italian bread. I mean it doesn't even interest me. I'd rather have a goddam Kaiser roll. A Kaiser roll is at least human, for God's sake. Let's avoid the phonies and go get some Thai food today. I swear I could eat Thai food everyday. I'm like a madman when it comes to Phad Thai noodles or Llad Now Grapow, really I am.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Bowling Report for October 13th

We split against the Coca-Cola team tonight. Craig bowled a 165 in the first game and the other team's best bowler was late. They took his average per league rules and we managed a narrow victory. Jay figured in the short end of a beer frame, or jello shot frame as is our custom. We weren't as lucky in game two. John the ringer for the other team walked in and scorched us with a big game, way over his average and they beat us by over a 100 pins.

I started with a strike in game three. I bowled a second and third strike and then a fourth. The other team remarked on my perfect game in frames four and five, much to the ire of my teammates, but it didn't phase me. I bowled a fifth and sixth strike. A guy screamed ten lanes away from us and did a belly flop down the hard wood. The PA announcer said the flopper bowled a perfect game - a 300. I bowled a seventh strike. I'd never done that before. I went up there in the eighth frame expecting to end it, but I struck again. Eight strikes in a row. You need 12 for a perfect game.

I waited my turn and when it arrived, I paused, took a deep breath, and approached the lane. I picked up my ball and tried to repeat the same throw that had worked eight times before, but it was not to be. I got an eight-spare. That's okay. The guys in our league gave me a round of applause and I finished the game with a 265! That's my highest game ever. I bowled a 620 series, also a personal high (181,174,265). I had four open frames total. That's not bad. They printed out my stats at the front desk. I rolled 17 strikes in the series, 12 spares, and picked up one of two splits.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Happy Birthday Rob Loud - 1952

Hellza-Poppin' - it's Rob Loud's birthday. Fresh off the ripe from Piedmont College, where he was Sergeant At Arms for the I Felta Thigh fraternity, cub reporter Rob "Bobby" Loud flew to Denmark to cover the world's first sex change operation for Life Magazine. When the future Christine Jorgensen got cold feet at the last minute, this gentle giant of the fourth estate offered to help out with expenses by purchasing all his/her old overalls. What a guy!

Happy Birthday Rob Loud - 1960

I'd like to pause and say "Happy Happy" to the Birthday boy Rob Loud. He's one of the original Mad Men who dropped a load of dough when Castro claimed his Havana time-share for the people of Cuba.

Rob smoked his last Chesterfield in 1960 and later that year, he shut down his portable wet bar in the dashboard of his Plymouth Valiant. He wanted to be in tip-top shape in case he needed to out run a nuclear bomb blast. Have a highball on me old man, you've managed to out run the grim reaper for another year.

Happy Birthday Rob Loud - 1972

That's a picture of my eternally youthful friend Rob Loud, snapped on his birthday in 1972. He was quick with a joke, or to light up a smoke, and he came this close to landing the role of Lionel on The Jeffersons.

Sammy Davis Jr. electrified the crowd at the Democratic National Convention and Rob played the banjo at Shakey's pizza. Gas was 30 cents a gallon and young women wore no bras, not that it mattered. Rob's sport jacket functioned as a "Fonda Shield". He kept a clear head and a clear bed. Father Rob we called him. God Bless ya.

Happy Birthday Rob Loud - 1988

Happy Birthday to my college chum Rob Loud. It's 1988 and The Jayhawks won the NCAA Basketball championship. The first of a string of championships for sure, with Larry Brown sticking around, probably until retirement. President Michael Dukakis drove a tank to commemorate his stunning election victory and you put new tires on your Nova. We toasted these new traditions and pledged our undying friendship over a keg of beer at graduation. We should have paid more attention during existential philosophy class at Wescoe Hall. But I renew my pledge of friendship to you today, on your birthday. Skoal!

Happy Birthday Rob Loud - 1994

Happy Birthday to my old friend Rob Loud. It seems like yesterday, but it was 1994 and you had NAFTA fever. Remember when you pioneered the karaoke parody about Lorena Bobbit, sung to the tune of Runaround Sue and we laughed so hard that we spit Pepsi Clear out of our noses. You wept when Arsenio was cancelled. Thank goodness Friends premiered on NBC. You'll always be my friend, Rob. Peace out.

Happy Birthday Rob Loud - 1998

Happy Birthday to my friend Rob Loud. You haven't changed a bit old buddy. Those were heady, happy days. AOL cried "You've Got Mail" and so did you. You're a sensitive man Robert and that's one of the reasons why I love ya.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A Momentary Lapse

I forgot how to spell "vegetable" for about 45 seconds this morning. I looked it up online to quell rising spelling paranoia. I'm okay now and look forward to spelling it with three e's as is my practice, except for the aforementioned 45 seconds of total insanity when I questioned the middle e. That's behind me now. I'm cool with e number two, there's no place for a second "a" in there, don't think that there is, because there isn't. That's how gas prices rose to four dollars a gallon. Put an extra "a" in vegetable instead of good old steady e the second and watch the stock market crash. See the corpses of a thousand investment bankers scattered on Wall Street's concrete bleeding. Tina Fey turns into Vaughn Meador. Chaos. Mayham.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Bowling Report for October 6th, 2008

We ran into a buzz saw tonight and dropped three of four games. The other team brought too much heat and we were lucky to score one victory. I don't feel bad about it. We bowled seven pins under our team high in game three for instance, but the other team fielded a bowler who didn't miss until the 10th frame and ended up with a 279. A different guy bowled a 242. Both of those games were among the top so far this season by any team in our league. You tip your bowling cap and move on. By the way, have you seen my bowling cap? I can't find it anywhere.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Purcell Rockwell Diary

My great-aunt Mae Youker Rockwell, wife of Purcell Melville Rockwell, kept a diary each year circa 1914-1919. I published a handful of 1914 entries on this webpage. This past week, while sorting through my late Grandmother's personal belongings, I found a 1910 diary from Aunt Mae's future husband, a collection of notes authored by 18 year-old Purcell. The diary ran out of steam by the end of January 1910, but he kept the journal throughout his life and recorded small bits of data in it up until the early 1960s. Here is Uncle Clint J. Perkin's recipe for cough syrup:
1/2 pt. Cod Liver Oil
1/2 pt. Rock Candy
1/2 pt. Brandy
10 cents worth of glycerine
Mix together. Shake well before using.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Green Team

Mrs. Jones and the kids made the local paper today in an article about recycling, written by Katrina Segers.

Remembering Grandma

Here's a nice tribute to my Grandma from KFVS Television in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


My grandma died today. That's her in the middle between my Mom on the left and my Aunt on the right. She was 95. She was the best Grandma in the whole world, one of the nicest ladies anywhere. She worked at KFVS television in Cape Girardeau, MO for 44 plus years. 40 hours during the week plus a half day on Saturday. That's the way they did it then but she never complained.

She held up well for a long time. She cut out her daily cocktail before dinner only recently. My Mom got her a cane when her balance wavered but she tossed it in the closet. She took me to New York City in 1974 when I was nine years old, just to show me the place. We walked the mall in D.C. together that summer and the battlefield at Gettysburg too, and though we didn't know it then, her great-grandfather may have fought there for the union.

She was a distant cousin to Harriet Beecher Stowe and Wild Bill Hickok, not that she bragged about it. She was not one to make a fuss. She didn't like dogs. The only time in my entire life when she raised her voice was once when I was five years old and our dog jumped up in a chair to get comfortable. She didn't know I was listening nearby when she implored our family pet, in no uncertain terms, to get the hell off the furniture. And that was it.

She co-owned her own vegetable cannery on the West bank of the Mississippi river during the depression until bums burned down. She drank in a speak-easy during prohibition. She married a Democrat and voted Republican. She drove a Buick. She sent me to England when I graduated from high school.

She set the bar very high for Grandmothers everywhere, all over the world, and today she died. Thank you Grandma for 95 great years. I know not everything turned out the way you planned, but I'm glad it did, for my sake, and as long as I live, you won't be forgotten.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

At The Stadium

The Jones family went to the Royals game tonight thanks to our friend Kurt and his tickets. Tonight was fan appreciation night and they gave us knit caps when we walked in the gates. I found the Planet Sub vendor (AKA Yello Sub) and bought a turkey club, not too hard on the diet. We watched the Royals beat the Chicago White Sox 5-2. The Royals hit three home runs including a two run blast from Alex Gordon, an inside the park job from David Dejesus, and the first major league homer from Kila Kia-hooie (sic). I spotted my old CJ-106 co-worker Kelly Urich, and chatted with him. I had not seen him in over 12 years. He is still in radio. I am not. He does a great job over at Mix-93 where he's been since CJ-106 bit the dust in1995.

We stayed for the entire game and saw Joakim Soria close out victory #70, which is one more than the team managed last season. A college kid in a Cardinals jersey walked past us and shouted "Go Cardinals" for no reason. My nine year-old stood up and said, "They aren't even playin". Good boy.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Day - September 18, 2008

Today I woke up at 7:15am, showered, stepped on the scale at 183 pounds, dressed, drank a glass of orange juice, grabbed an apple and drove to the office. I live 15 minutes from work. Arrived at my desk just after 8am, read email, got a cup of coffee and began the work day.

I enhance and support a web application for a large engineering firm and today is the monthly peak usage day. I am the main point of contact for support questions and I coordinate those efforts with the brain trust. The morning seemed typical with a steady stream of phone calls and emails, but nothing overwhelming.

Drove home for lunch and checked Facebook. Logged into Travian, the tribal wars community game. My daughter spilled applesauce on her outfit at school and one of our neighbors, a woman who was at the school for another reason, went home and brought her a clean shirt. She also has a first grade daughter. What a kind thing to do. She left a phone message.

Returned to the office for more troubleshooting among the faithful. The application architect and I reviewed a prickly problem with data and discovered a loophole that needed attention, but we won't mitigate today, not on the day of peak use. We'll schedule it for October.

Got off work at 5pm and drove home for a pork burrito dinner from the wifey. She's a good cook. Skyler played Madden '08 and Leah went to soccer practice. Mrs. Jones went out with the girls for bunco, a lady dice game featuring snacks and drinks.

I stayed in with the kids and we watched Tom & Jerry, they practiced piano, and the little one took a bath. She read me a story and I returned the favor before our ritual, a prayer and two songs. I sang her a personalized version of "Goodnight Sweatheart" where I substituted her name over the sweetheart part, and I encored with "I'm So Glad We Had This Time Together" from the Carol Burnett show, only she doesn't know that's the origin.

It's 8pm and the boy and I talked sports. He brought me up to date on his GM activities within Madden franchise mode. He asked me to play a video game since his allotment is kaput. He gets one hour of PC or Gamecube time per day. I parachuted into France and surprised the German army all over again in Medal of Honor Spearhead edition.

He motored upstairs. Teeth were brushed, jammies were donned, and we talked before bed. I told him I wanted him to start a memory box, a small box with a lid to house momentos. We discussed what that meant and I asked him to imagine what it might be like if our house were frozen in time so he might return to the way it was today some time in the distant future. He might marvel at his baseball cards, his books, his toys. Those things are some of his personal momentos. I turned off the light and said goodnight. No songs for the 4th grader. He's not into it, although sometimes, not tonight, but sometimes I paraphrase a line from Cider House Rules when I say, "Goodnight my King of Kansas, my Prince of Prairie Village".

9pm - I did three miles on the treadmill in the basement. The calorie counter registered 250. I fired up Madden on the gamecube while I walked those three miles and the '62 Dallas Texans defeated the '96 Carolina Panthers 34-21 in a thrilling come from behind victory where the Texans, down 21-17, recovered the onside kick, and marched down field with less than two minutes remaining to take the lead. I was the Texans.

9:45 - I called my mother in Cape Girardeau. My 95 year-old grandmother is in the hospital. I've known since last night. She had the flu or maybe food poisoning. Anyway, she couldn't keep food down for four days and vomited when she tried. This led to dehydration and a fall in her apartment. A neighbor discovered her on the floor and called an ambulance. My Mom and Dad drove the 5.5 hours to Cape this morning and the good news is that she didn't have a stroke or a heart attack, but she's weak and tired and well, I don't know. She doesn't want to take phone calls today. Maybe tomorrow she'll feel better.

At 11pm I'll jump in bed, watch 45 minutes of TV and drift off to sleep.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

He Used to Live Down the Street From Me.

Today is Jason Wagers' birthday. Happy Birthday "Minimum Wage". Here's Jason scarin' up some breakfast porkchops on the popular Japanese morning show, Good Morning Tokyo.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Bowling Report for September 15th

I post a summary of our team's bowling exploits every Monday night, weather permitting. We won two of three matches and had more total pins than the other team. That counts as a victory by itself. Results are unofficial pending the official tally by the bowl-master 9000 computer in the Mission Bowl pro shop but I'm confident in Kurt's math. We are 8 and 4 so far this season. Our best bowler Brent returned from summer hiatus and missed a triplicate patch by six pins in game three (171, 171, 165). I had my first 500+ series of the year (504).

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Remembering the Crystal Ship

My friends Kurt and Greg gave me the Doors album for Christmas 1980. We were sophomores in high school and saw "Apocalypse Now" that fall. I was taken with "The End" and the napalm sequence that opened the movie. The album, their gift, was a watershed, and I featured the record on my bedroom turntable during the first half of 1981. They left the price tag on the saran wrap. It was $4.99 at the Capers Corner bargain bin. OMG! What a bargain. This song is my favorite:

Fun With Music is Fun

Fun for everyone:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wellsville 2008

Here's The Embarrassment doing an acoustic version of Wellsville, recorded live in Wichita, KS over Labor Day weekend 2008 and featuring special guest guitarist Freedy Johnston. Posted by Demolition Kitchen.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Bowling Report for September 8th

It's too early in the season to know how we're doing. Week two at Mission Bowl with 31 weeks to go. They outlawed smoking and that's a big change this year. Our lungs are doing much better, that I know. We bowled well after a slow start in week one. Kurt and Craig found their game and we held serve throughout the night but the true scores were obscured since new bowlers rolled on both sides of the scoring settee. I managed a 464 series - anything over 450 and I'm happy. 450 / 3 = 150. Good night.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Tap a Kegel

I don't want to go into it but I will not be doing any more kegels.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Old Mission Teachers

Old Mission 1977-1980

7th Grade
Mrs. Patrick - English
Mr. Spencer - Social Studies
Mr. Vrbas - Math
Mr. Gibson - Gym
Mrs. Dekeyser - Life Science
Mrs. Caldwell - Art

8th Grade
Mrs. Chamberlain - Spanish
Mrs. Winston - Typing
Mr. Corder - Gym
Mr. Colley - Math
Mrs. Schweiker - English
Mr. Dory - Social Studies
Mr. Meidinger - Earth Science

9th Grade
Mr. Dory - Social Studies
Mrs. Carter - Foods
Mr. Gibson - Gym
Mrs. Hodgson - Science
Ms. Parks - English
Mr. Lyons - Math
Mrs. LaPierre - Speech

Friday, September 05, 2008

Elementary School Teachers

Brian McClendon, a 1982 Lawrence High School graduate, and the man behind Google Earth and Google Street View, emphasized the importance of computers in learning and giving youngsters access to computers at a young age in an article in today's Lawrence Journal World (by Alexander Parker). The story featured a quote from someone who said they were amazed that Brian, a very successful man, remembered the names of his fourth grade teachers. It went on to say that he remembered to give them credit for his success. The latter part was probably the true intent of the statement, the amazing part. Can't most people remember their elementary school teachers' names? Challenge yourself (without consulting yearbooks). Spelling doesn't count and you don't have to include first names. Here's my list.

Roeland Park Elementary 1970 - 1974
K - Mrs. Bates
1 - Mrs. Sue Stewart (maternity leave) / Mrs. Kathy Gintzel
2 & 3 - Mrs. Mabel Williams

Roesland 1974-1977
4 - Mrs. Barbara McAllister
5 - Mrs. Ewing
6 - Mrs. Gretchen Lohnes

Do you care: Mrs. Gintzel and Mrs. Williams both lived on my street (Rosewood) at the same time I did, although they had husbands and separate addresses. Tomorrow: Junior High

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Cape Girardeau Drive

I've driven to Cape Girardeau dozens of times in my life. My parents used to pack my brothers and me into our 1972 Chevrolet Kingswood station wagon for the 385 mile journey across Missouri on I-70 and I-55.

The drive time varied from seven and half hours to five and a half depending on if and when we stopped the car. The original route included a passage from St. Louis to Cape on U.S. highway 61, that's right Dylan fans. Before I-55 opened in the early 70s, we traversed Missouri on a single lane job that hit lots of little towns like Festus, Ste. Genevieve and Fruitland. We took a shortcut down route W and approached Cape from the Northwest. I got excited when familiar landmarks appeared like the house on route W with the mailbox that resembled a moving truck. A roadhouse tavern sported a beer sign that said either Falstaff or Stag beer complete with a smiling crewcut blue-collar man in the photo who reminded me of my Dad's friend Coach Uhls. Those were the old days of Pevely Dairy billboards and "Are we there yet?" That section rated a two-hour drive at the minimum and sometimes longer when we ended up behind a big truck or a slow moving vehicle, in other words, every time.

The St. Louis to Cape Girardeau section of I-55 opened in the early 70s and cut drive time by 45 minutes on average. This was undone when the 55 mph speed limit was introduced during the energy crisis. Our trip time averaged about 7.5 hours.

My parents drove at night one time. We put the seat down in back and tossed in a foam pad. I tried to sleep but it was too exciting. Another time my Mom packed a cooler full of ice and sodas and we stopped three or four times between Kansas City and Columbia to use the bathroom. They gave up and we stayed overnight in Columbia where we paid the Holiday Inn people for a private room to pee in for the rest of the night.

We liked to stop in Columbia anyway. We lived there during the late 1960s (on West Blvd. South of Broadway). We used to eat at Howard Johnson's or the Post House. I watched for the little mall with the JC Pennys and the Flaming Pit restaurant where my mom got her hair done in the old days.

Mom touted Gasper's at Kingdom City. The parking lot was packed with 18 wheelers. "It must be good if the truckers like it," she said. We ate there once and it was okay. We stopped at other places along the way like The Red Lion in Warrenton or the Big Boy restaurant near Wright City.

My Dad discovered the 61/40 shortcut at Wentzville (home of Chuck Berry) south to I-270 about that time and we saved 30 minutes by skipping the run into downtown St. Louis. I liked seeing the arch but it took longer. I'm not sure if we ever needed to take that route, but that's the way we went. The 61/40 shortcut intersected I-270 north of Manchester and the big bird on the pole at the West County Shopping Center. I badgered my Dad into stopping at a gas station there. I called summer camp girls on the pay phone who lived in Kirkwood and Des Peres. He didn't like to stop and I understand now that I'm a Dad and the principal driver, plus my wife would not appreciate extra calls to summer camp girls. Some still live there.

The approach to Cape on Kingshighway took us past the memorial park where my Dad's folks are buried. There's an ancient KGMO radio tower near the side of the road. This stretch of the business loop was and still is dotted with commercial development - motels and burger joints ruled. We turned left on Broadway (by the Burger King), past the old McDonald's with the retro arches, left at Capaha Park and right on Pemiscot street (finally). Dad sang "Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandmother's House We Go" despite numerous protests.

Granny moved to an apartment on Bellevue in 1980. My grandfather Bader died that same year of cancer and I turned 16 the following Spring. I was old enough to stay home by myself. My family trips to Cape Girardeau ended. I wouldn't return until after college in 1989.

I took the family down this past weekend for Grandma's 95th birthday. This was their fourth trip. The kids don't realize how easy they have it in the van with the hand-held video games and the portable DVD player. They still ask "Are we there yet," sometimes before we hit Odessa. We stopped in Columbia at a burger joint with a habitrail.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

New Embarrassment Song

The history of a "new" song from The Embarrassment, Carpshoot, written by Bill Goffrier, with his notes cribbed from The Embarrassment Yahoo Groups page:

Carpshoot's original lyric sheet is posted in the files here. We think Ron told us the story circa 1979, we rhtmed [sic] it, I transcribed it, Brent drew the fish and bullets, but it never made it past Ron's dining room. I recently expanded on the words and music, tried to keep it very simple, and that's what we played the other night.

They streamed last weekend's concert across the Internet where venerable music lover and scene historian Mike Blur listened at home, unable to journey to the show. He captured the song and posted it here.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Catching Up for September

I got back from a weekend in Missouri's boot heel. I had a fabulous time, hooked up with long lost relatives for family time, and ate like a savage. I spent two nights in Cape Girardeau, MO with a day trip to Caruthersville, Missouri. My mom's paternal line, the Bader family, hails from Caruthersville. More about that trip tomorrow. I'm burned out from driving across the state today. It's good to be home.

Friday, August 15, 2008

England Trip - Trivia!

Here are more memory fragments from my England trip that fell out of the narrative.
  • There are no skyscrapers in England.
  • I bought an extra carry on bag at a luggage shoppe in Kensington to help carry the extra goods. I bought a Wedgwood pitcher (about the size of a softball) for Mom, a book of Prints from the National Gallery gift shop, a tacky painted plate from a gift shop in Stratford for my brother and his wife. I bought a T-shirt in Cambridge and army surplus coveralls from the British air force at a surplus shop.
  • The coverall, a jumpsuit, was nondescript, it didn't have a bunch of military insignias or lettering. It was a total impulse move. The dang thing was about an inch too small. It rode up in the crotch and the pant legs were a tad too short. I gave it to my roomie at Oliver Hall, Greg Merritt.
  • I saw a topless sunbather on the beach at Brighton.
  • The Bank in Kensington where I cashed my traveller's checks was Barclays. They were everywhere. They charged me a vig every time I made an exchange.
  • I never quite mastered the concept of V.A.T. - value added tax. I can't explain it to you now.
  • I tried a Wimpey burger after seeing them about London and viewing the TV ads. They invited me to sit down like a regular restaurant and a waitress took my order. I don't recall being blown away by it, but it was still better than British pizza.
  • I took a novel with me on the trip, Different Seasons by Stephen King. The paperback featured four novellas. Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, Apt Pupil, The Body (AKA Stand by Me) and The Breathing Method.
  • The Onslow Court hotel was in a neighborhood where many Embassies for foreign nations were stationed. The Qatar Embassy was very close to us.
  • One commodity that seemed to be missing: girls my age. I didn't see them at the pubs or the cathedrals. I didn't meet any girls on my own the whole time I was there. But I wasn't on the make either. I sort of had a girlfriend back home. I bought her a wool sweater at Windsor castle but she never got it. Our schedules got crossed and we ran out of time before departing for different colleges. I kept the sweater, a plum pullover with a conservative stitch pattern around the neck, and gave it to another girl later, who I deemed special. It didn't fit quite as well.
  • I took up the tea habit while in country and promptly discarded it upon returning to the states. I also enjoyed many English beers but reverted to 3.2 tavern beer once back in Kansas.
  • I was forced to visit British laundromats to keep my knickers clean. I ran into a couple of Americans in the Kensington laundromat. They were on the Euro-rail program, hopping from hostel to hostel. You need clean underwear for that. I donned my jumpsuit for a trip to the laundromat in the provinces. I don't recall what town, but a kind old lady who swept up offered me "a sweet". That's hard candy for you Yankee bastards.
  • Litter and garbage were not in short supply in London. Thatcher may have been having labour problems but she chose not to employ them to collect rubbish. Trash cans were plentiful, but all seemed jammed with garbage.
  • One time Marc and I ran late and I needed to choke down some food before we started our ritual pub crawl. We went into a shoppe and I ordered a slice of meat pie to go. The pastry crust was so flaky and dry that I couldn't wash it down without a drink. I opted for a pint of Guinness, recalling my first pint a few days before on the train back from Wales. Where as the first pint was chilled, this one was butt warm and I nearly passed out from pastry/warm stout asphyxiation. In the meantime Marc kept chiding me to hurry up. He was impatient when it came to meat pies.
  • We stayed away from American chain outlets. No McDonalds. I don't think Pizza Hut was there yet. Every time we closed in on a bit of Americana, we got spanked. There was a bar in Kensington with a Texas theme. They had Lone Star beer cans stacked in the window and the whole place was done up like a western bar. We went in and sat down and ordered a beer, but they wouldn't serve it during pub siesta time. We left and never went back. Coca-cola was the lone exception.
  • The Onslow Court hotel had a cocktail-table model of the Asteroids video game in a hallway by the back stairs. It cost 10p to play (about 15 cents).
  • The USA Today was not available. U.S. news in general was hard to obtain. The BBC nightly news was very international, but not U.S. centric (and why would it be about America). This de-empahsis on America as the only show in town was one of the best lessons I learned while abroad.
  • There is no "prime-time" on English TV. They ran re-runs and first-run shows in the evening along with news documentaries and [lookout] Cricket. Blimey. Those test matches lasted for days.
  • The first day we were there, we heard the familiar British fanfare that played at the beginning of every episode of Benny Hill, but it turned out it was the network fanfare for Thames television, and it played before all the shows on that network.
  • American shows on the schedule: Flamingo Road, Simon and Simon, The Munsters, The Bilko Show.
  • Brit programmes: I caught glimpses of Coronation Street, Steptoe and Son, and Robin's Nest. Coronation Street was a prime time soap. Steptoe and Son was the basis for Sanford and Son and Robin's Nest was a spin-off of Man in the House, the inspiration for Three's Company.
  • All not available: American cigarettes. Smokers on the trip were not impressed by the local tobacco flavors.
  • Only Americans wore sneakers and jeans as casual wear. You could spot a yank from 300 yards with the Nikes and the Levis.
  • I sampled blood pudding at a hotel restaurant buffet. I question whether this was the best venue to try it for the first time. It was okay, a bit gristly.
  • I needed a passport for the trip and I waited in line at the Shawnee Mission post office but they rejected my application. I didn't have an official passport photo and you can't use a random glamour shot. I located a photographer in Mission who made such photos. He worked out of a little shop located in the concourse at the Mission Mart shopping center. That was a strip mall with Pier One and TG&Y. There was an indoor section that operated on two floors. Nobody ever went in there even when it rained but he had a storefront there. I called by phone and made an appointment that same afternoon. I was proud of myself for the extra hustle. He met me there. It was obvious that he didn't keep shop. He only showed up when he had a session. I sat down for three quick shots. I thought he'd give me a print on the spot. He told me to come back Thursday. That was two days later, but I guess it worked out. I got my official passport with photo in time for the flight to the UK.
  • There were many public appeals, signs, billboards, etc. to help the "spastics". This was the accepted term for people with cerebral palsy (CP).
  • I saw a kid on the subway in a Jayhawk t-shirt.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

England Trip - August 14th, 1983

We said goodbye to the Onslow Court Hotel and cheerio to England on a 12:30pm flight. Our trip handlers advised us it was customary to tip the bus driver at the end of a charter coach journey. Tipping is not an innate skill, one has to learn it and I had no idea what to give Gordon. I thought he did a great job so I gave him 20 pounds. That was about 30 dollars in those days. We took off from Heathrow and it was busy but there were no problems. The flight was long and we landed at O'Hare, Chicago in time for a four hour layover. Argh.

My Dad met me at the gate in Kansas City. The plane touched down after 8pm. I couldn't wait to get home. We were all tired. In my rush, I don' t think I made a big enough deal about my goodbyes.

I saw Tom, Melissa, and Marc again at K.U. (and our pub mate from Bath). We made plans to meet with the two Judys that November for a reunion to look at snapshots and Tom's home movies. He carried either an 8mm or a 16mm camera with him in England and we all made the highlights I'm told. I never saw the prints. The projector bulb shot craps the day of our reunion. But Tom didn't give up. He and Melissa went to KU, got married, moved to Carmel where they befriended the Mayor, Mr. Clint Eastwood. Tom and Clint collaborated on several films and Melissa worked behind the scenes too.

Marc, the one-time cable man from Los Angeles, got a job at 96X, a rock station in Ottawa, KS that serviced the Lawrence market. He sold air time, was on the air, and starred in their local cable TV ad campaign as the Herb Tarlick-like salesman who got zapped by the cool rock sounds of 96X. I think Marc stayed in sales but I haven't talked to him in over 20 years. He may be living in California.

Judy Oden retired from Shawnee Mission North and became a travel agent. She and Judy Spencer continued to visit Europe, though not always together. Gordon drove coaches across the UK for many years. I hope he still does.

I unpacked my things when I got home but I didn't have long to rest. The dorms opened three days later at KU and I prepared to start another exciting journey, a new chapter, as a freshman at Oliver Hall. 1983 was a busy year.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

England Trip - August 13th, 1983

that's me on the right in front of the Cleese townhouse
Today was our last full day in England. The trip organizers suggested we visit the Portabello road market, but Tom, Melissa, Marc, and I ended up going to a rare bookseller in Soho. A man on the street selling bootleg George Harrison cassettes recognized us as Yanks and tried to sell us some music but we didn't buy. The bookstore was amazing, a trove of used and rare books on multiple floors. Marc inquired about a specific title that his father wanted, military history perhaps, a shot in the dark he said, but they had it!

Later that day we visited an unusual group of people. I can't remember the exact circumstances, only that it was late afternoon, and they served tea and someone made a speech. There was an elderly lady, much like a Monty Python pepperpot, only older, and she wore a medal given to her by the Queen. A middle-aged man and a woman ran this place, but I don't recall the occasion, only that they told us that John Cleese, of Monty Python fame, was their neighbor. Marc and I perked up. Yes, they said, he ran lines in his back garden where they observed him more than once. Connie Booth, his collaborator, wife, and co-star in Fawlty Towers, was also seen in the town home adjacent to this mysterious meeting hall.

Marc and I walked around the corner. We hoped to see John Cleese but we didn't. We took pictures of ourselves at the gate. Neither one of us dared ring his doorbell, though Marc faked the intent in the photo that featured him (he's the gent in the black jacket).

Our farewell dinner was meant to be special. I donned what dress-up duds I had left in the suitcase, cashed my last batch of American Express checks, and rode the tube to an Italian bistro run by Spaniards in the Northern suburbs of London. We ate orange and green pasta, a personal first for me, and I thought it was quite a novelty at the time. This meal was a bit more expensive than our typical supper, but it was worth it. We drank wine and kind words were spoken all around the table.

Marc, Tom, Melissa, and I stopped for a drink at a nearby pub after dinner. The bar was next to a local police precinct and squad cars went by while we stood outside the front door. Cops walked past us on their way to work but nobody cared that we pubbed it up out front. It was a warm, clear evening and a bittersweet event, our last night together in the U.K. I hope we toasted England and each other.

I asked the bartender if any famous people patronized this pub, since we weren't far from the Cleese flat and he nodded. "Kelly Monteith," he said. "Who?" I asked. "Kelly Monteith." I'd never heard of Kelly Monteith and I told him so. "Well you ought to know 'im," he said. "He's a yank."

It turned out that Kelly Monteith was an American comedian who scored a BBC TV show in the late 1970s. I happened upon an episode at some point and it was pretty lame. He was doing a bit about escalators, addressing the audience directly, and remarking about how the escalator hand rail moved faster than the stairs, a bit I'm pretty sure I heard somebody else do first in America, but with old Kel sequestered in the UK on the BBC, his writing staff "borrowed" it, or perhaps it was a funny coincidence. The bartender assumed I'd know Monteith, the fellow Yank. This was a dissonant fact that amazed me, how certain cultural fragments rose to the forefront, like the KC and the Sunshine Band single on the jukebox, or the George Brett pine tar game mention on the news. Even KMBC's Christine Craft made the BBC with her accusations of sexual discrimination. That was a different night in my travels, but one time in the hotel room while I watched TV before bed, I saw video of the Kansas City skyline. "That's Kansas City," I said, though I was alone. The BBC ran the story and picked up some B-roll of the Channel Nine local news open package. George Brett, Christine Craft, Kansas City, all there in the news, and yet the average pub patron was oblivious to them. Toto, Dorothy and friggin' Kelly Monteith - they knew about those icons.

Another memory fragment: Tom and Melissa departed and Marc and I went to another bar. This suburban pub featured a snooker table. I had never seen snooker before and I found it fascinating. No pockets at all and an array of solid white and red balls. The table was a local attraction. Serious players eyed the action from all corners of the room. One British wrinkle that I didn't get: patrons were required to put money in a coin box connected to the lights. The snooker table featured a large bank of lights and every 15 minutes the lights shut off, often in the middle of a shot. That produced some choice cockey rhyming slang from the players. They said, "Knickers and hickeys, go the bells of St. Rickey's. Escalator comedy bit thief, goes the American Monteith." And so to bed.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

England Trip - August 12th, 1983

Gordon drove the group to the West side of town to see Windsor Castle and Hampton Court. I remember Hampton Court with copious Henry VIII references. We walked through the hedge maze. It was a beautiful sunny day. I might be wrong but it seemed like Windsor Castle and Hampton Court were next to each other. We spent the entire day looking at Royal luxury, works of art, and fabulous buildings, rooms, and gardens. I have a fragmented memory of a major Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit on display.

Memory fragment: a waitress from a local restaurant chatted with us while we were waiting for our party to return to the bus. She was from Boston, cute, early 20's and very excited to see Americans. I wonder what the deal was. It wasn't like we were the only Americans to visit England that summer. Maybe she was a natural Patty Simcox; chatty and friendly. I must admit I had boyish American charm that screamed red, white, and blue, as did my teenage complexion.

It was a pleasant exchange, albeit brief, but I can't get over the fact that a native wanted to chat with us by virtue of our nationality. We must have caught her on the cusp of assimilation. A couple weeks later and she may not have cared, a couple weeks earlier and she might have been new in country with fresh memories of the swell Americans back in Boston. I'll never know the answer. One thing I am sure about, the restaurant where she worked looked like it was destined to fail. The place was done up like a 70s glam bar with a boxing theme. She wore brightly colored silk boxing trunks. It was like a Hooters but with models dressed as boxers. Not sure if they donned the headgear, perhaps during World Cup happy hour. Those football hooligans, you know.

That night Judy O. and I visited the London theatre district and the Savoy theatre in particular for Noises Off, starring Phyllida Law as Dotty Otley. I didn't know who she was then, but it was obvious she was the star. She's better known now as Emma Thompson's mother. The play was hilarious, the theatre was packed, and it was a very entertaining evening. We took a London cab home after the show ended. I found out later that the Savoy theatre was the home of Gilbert and Sullivan during their heyday in the 1890s, and it was the venue where they debuted The Mikado, The Pirates of Penzance, and H.M.S. Pinafore, among other operettas.

I still have the show program somewhere (but I can't locate it). The plot concerned a play and the program contained the bios for the real actors as well as the fictitious information for the play within a play, called Nothing On. The show opened with char-woman Dotty eating sardines and talking on the phone. A man walked down the aisle not far from us and shouted at her from the house floor. It was a nice reveal - he was an actor as well, the director of Nothing On. Comedic chaos ensued. It's too bad the movie version with Carol Burnett bombed. The production was perfect for the theater. The KU theater department staged it in the late 80s. David Rees Snell, a co-worker at Audio Reader, and now better known as Emma Thompson's mother on The Shield, played Frederick Dallas. Fred came across as a vapid man of British manners in the English production, but that's not a comic type in the United States, so Snell played it to emphasize his indecisiveness and insecurity. Here ends my belated review.

It's coincidental that both the Savoy theatre and Windsor Castle suffered devastating fires in the years since I visited the U.K. In contrast, Phyllida Law's American film career never caught fire, though I don't know if she cared.