Saturday, April 28, 2007

Popping Pills

Yesterday, while shopping at my favorite store (At Cost Liquors), I ran into a female acquaintance that I hadn’t seen for nearly a year. In the past I had only seen her at night in the dimly lit Bar where I had been employed. She is 50 something and looks fairly attractive for her age. I had categorized her as an old broad, meaning a woman over 45 years old and therefore I never made any improper advances towards her.

I had never seen her in the daylight. Surprisingly she looked better in the daylight than she had in the bar. This is a rare thing, because bar lighting is set to make people more attractive then they really are.

There is an old bar saying “I never went to bed with an ugly person, but I have woke up with quite a few in my bed”. Fortunately I have only had this experience on one occasion. She wasn’t Coyote Ugly, but she was someone that I wouldn’t have approached if I had been sober.

I had walked to my favorite store and the woman offered to give me a lift home. I accepted. Reluctantly, I invited her into my apartment; she had asked “Can I help you carry that upstairs?” My place is such a mess and I don’t like members of the opposite sex seeing it this way. I haven’t dated in over two years. I believe that men in general will keep their domicile cleaned and neater when involved with a member of the opposite sex. Let’s face it most men are slobs by nature, we are Oscar Madison's not Felix Unger's. That’s why maid service is popular with single males.

I popped a couple of beer for us, giving her a glass. I mention to her that she was looking very good. She smiles. After about 15 minutes, I told her that she looks so different and I asked her if she has had a face lift;” You look ten years younger” I said! This is generally not a question that I would ask of a woman, but you must understand that I was under the influence of alcohol at this point in time.

She answers “Botox”. I had no idea what she is talking about, what the hell is Botox? She finished her beer and departed. We exchanged phone numbers.

Later last night I did a search on Botox.
From Wikipedia –
Botulinum toxin is a neurotoxin protein produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. It is one of the most poisonous naturally occurring substances in the world. Though it is highly toxic, it is used in minute doses both to treat painful muscle spasms, and as a cosmetic treatment in some parts of the world. It is sold commercially under the brand names Botox and Dysport for this purpose. The terms Botox and Dysport are trade names and are not used generically to describe the neurotoxins produced by clostridia species.

This scares me! I cannot believe that any sane person would take this drug, even if it would make them look younger and more attractive to the opposite sex. What Doctors would suggest these drugs (Botox or Dysport) to a patient? It seems that many Doctors are too swayed by the Pharmaceutical salesmen and will prescribe what I call the “Popular Drug of the Month” My local VA Hospital (Bay Pines) gives out Drugs like they are candy. I don’t use them, even if prescribed. My sister has taught me to use natural supplements, rather than take prescription medicines. I am not a healthy person. My bad habits prevent this. But the supplements that I am taking are keeping me alive and in relatively good health.

I wish that I could look younger and more attractive to younger women. But I’ll never take drugs to do so!

The Beach Bum

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Friday, April 27, 2007

TV Commercials

I spent an inordinate amount of my time on the telephone yesterday afternoon. I spoke to two of my children, my Cable company (Bright House), an old friend from Chicago, GEICO automobile insurance, my former boss and a friend here in Florida. I usually do not spend this much time on the telephone. But I had some issues that needed to be resolved before going to my daughter’s house again, for another dog sitting assignment.

During most of the time on the phone I was also watching the Devil Rays being slaughtered by the LA Angels. Lo and Behold while I am on the phone with GEICO, up pops the GEICO Gecko on the television screen. Is this just coincidence or happenstance? I don’t know. I remember when the Gecko made his debut some years ago. Originally these were silly but good commercials. Now he has an Aussie accent and they have taken him to a level of incompetence via the “Peter Principle”. GEICO’s “Cave Man” commercials are even worse than their Gecko commercials. I would strongly suggest that GEICO change Ad Agencies.

As I have said before in my blogs, I like some commercials and occasionally enjoy watching them more than some of the network programs. However, with the exception of Miller Lite beer, a television commercial has never affected any of my purchases. When I decided that I needed to switch to a light beer (I had been drinking ales and Canadian beers) it was the Miller commercials that made me try their brand first. The beer is as they say “less filling”, but I don’t agree about the “tastes great” part.

I’ve been set in my ways and purchasing habits for over 25 years. I’ve been using the same bar soap, the same toilet tissue, the same shampoo, the same laundry detergent etc. etc. from the time that Jimmy Carter was our President. What I am trying to say is that no matter how good a television commercial or magazine advertisement is, it will not change my buying habits. My Mom and Dad were the same way with there purchases; as I do, they bought the same old stuff. You find something that you like and you stick with it. If a new and improved product comes to the marketplace you can bet that the product that you are currently using will soon be new and improved.

The Beach Bum

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Old Neighborhood

The Chicago Tribune reports:

“Federal authorities today announced charges against 22 people in what they described as a massive fraudulent ID ring run out of a Little Village shopping plaza.”
Why does this not surprise me?
The “Little Village” is what they now call my old Chicago neighborhood. Back when I was young all Chicago neighborhoods had names and they probably still do today.

The Tribune article goes on to say:
“In announcing the charges, U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald said the ring's alleged leader also ordered the murder of a rival and was conspiring to commit more violent acts.”

This surprises me even less.

When my mom remarried in 1953, I was magically transported from the North side of Chicago to the southwest side of Chicago. At that time my new neighborhood was called Pilsen. This was probably due to the fact that the Yusay Pilsen Brewery (and Pilsen Park) was in the middle of the neighborhood.

It was a very diverse neighborhood. Although it was predominately Polish and Bohemian we also had Italians, Irish and many people of eastern European origin living in this neighborhood. However we didn’t have, as my Dad would say, any “People of Color”. According to Dad, this is why we had very little crime in our neighborhood.

Sometime in the early to mid 1960’s the name of our neighborhood was changed from Pilsen to the “Little Village”. The Yusay Pilsen Brewery had closed and the influxes of the new residents to the neighborhood were predominantly from Mexico. As to who made the decision to rename the neighborhood, I have no idea. My guess was that it was our 22nd Ward Alderman.

Unknowingly, I bid a final farewell to living in my old neighborhood when I was coerced into joining the Army in 1966. When I returned from overseas duty, to visit my family in the fall of 1968, I noticed some changes in the old neighborhood. There were many more Spanish speaking people living in my old neighborhood. At this time I also visited my old High School. In 1963, our student body of 3200 was about 10% Hispanic; now, five years later, it was closer to 40%.

My Dad said that the change was not a bad thing. The Mexican’s maintained their property; they all had nice lawns. He said that they were good Catholics that attended church every Sunday and that none of them were on welfare. I nodded my head in approval but didn’t really buy into his assessment.

The next time I returned to the old neighborhood was in June 1974. It was for a funeral. My cousin Bobby had been murdered by the neighborhood Mexicans. He was a decorated Chicago Police Officer as well as a highly decorated US Marine Corp Vet; he had served and survived two tours in Viet Nam in the 1960’s. He was a good friend that treated me like a younger brother and I had admired and looked up to him. He died in the line of duty and the City of Chicago has named a Chicago Police Boat in his honor.

Mom and Dad moved out of the neighborhood to the western suburbs of Chicago shortly after that time. On my fiftieth birthday my daughters accompanied me to Chicago to celebrate this event with my family and friends. After sailing on Lake Michigan all day, my eldest cousin “The Admiral” drove us through our old neighborhood to show my daughters where we lived as youths. He said “Keep the windows closed and the doors locked, this is the “Little Village”.

The Beach Bum

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sexual Healing

There is an article in the May issue of Cosmopolitan magazine called the "Secrets of Sexual Attraction" that attempts to explain why women are drawn to certain guys, and also why men are attracted to certain types of women. I didn’t read the article and probably won’t.

This morning Cosmopolitan Editor-in-Chief Kate White talked with CBS The Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen about the mysteries of sex appeal.

Kate White stated that there are four major types of sexual attraction: Instant Attraction, Opposites Attract, The Power of Scent and Slow-Burn Love. The most interesting of the four is “The Power of Scent”. The power of scent does not refer to the cologne that we wear or our normal body odors, but to our pheromones. White said "Well, it's not a scent we can actually smell, but we give off pheromones. They signal our reproductive potential. Other people pick them up from us and vice versa. You may find yourself attracted to a guy. You have no clue why. It's because on some level, you like his smell, his scent, and his pheromones."

I must have been putting out a lot of pheromones between 12 and 25 years ago. As women who were 12 to 21 years younger than me displayed an interest in having sex with me. I always thought that their interest in me was because of my agile mind and quick wit. They were all of prime “birthin’ babies” age, so I did the logical thing and had a vasectomy. This destroyed my relationship with two of these women after they discovered that I could not produce any more offspring. So there might actually be something to this Pheromone thing after all.

One of my former younger lovers had a subscription to Cosmo. I must admit that I love their cover girls and had occasionally read an article or two in each issue. Being a man, I rather look at the pictures. Pictures say 1000 words.

Look at the magazine cover above, the lead story is "Ten Things that Guys Crave in Bed". If a woman can not figure this out by herself she is in big trouble with the opposite sex. Normal men usually have only one thing on their minds when they are awake and in bed with a woman. And it is not what they will have for lunch tomorrow or a chocolate chip cookie.

Most of the articles in Cosmo are about finding and getting the right man, seducing the right man, keeping the right man, satisfying (I really liked these articles) the right man and tips on how to make yourself more attractive (via makeup and clothing) to the right man. In my opinion most of it is pure BS. I can't believe that intelligent women buy into this scenario.

I do believe that most of the Cosmo articles are written and edited by women who have no idea whatsoever about the male Psyche. I also believe that I am an average guy and that I think like an average guy. I know what I like. Years ago I read an article in Cosmo on how to “Keep Your Man Happy in Bed”. I was surprised at what I read. I don’t really remember what exactly was written on the subject, but I do recall it was incongruous with my thinking of a good time in bed.

To me it is a very simple process; I believe that a woman should initiate the process of making love, whether or not she is “in the mood”. Then you touch one another like it was the first time you have ever touched, whisper gently into your partners ear, kiss every part of you partners body and then have reciprocal oral sex. At this point you are making love and not just having gratuitous sex. You have to make it feel like the “First Time” every time. This applies to both men and women.

I remember the first love of my life; we never made love we just had sloppy sex. We were young and foolish and there were no magazines like Cosmopolitan to guide us in the right or wrong direction. Ignorance is bliss.

The Beach Bum

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Toga, Toga, Toga !

I enjoy drinking Beer. Let’s face it; I enjoy drinking anything with an alcohol content. But beer is my alcoholic beverage of choice. My friends tell me that I don’t really like Beer because of the fact that I drink the Lite variety out of a can. They go on to say that beer should have flavor and my Lite beer tastes more like water and aluminum.

I do occasionally drink good beers (Ales and Porters) but I find that they fill me too quickly and cause me to belch. Plus after five or six of them I begin to sound like former Chicago Cubs announcer Harry Caray did after the seventh inning stretch; slurring my words and calling people by the wrong name. After a few more of these good beers my short term memory begins to fade and I have a tendency to repeat what I had said just ten minutes before.

The other day I viewed an interesting photo captioned “College girl turns herself into human beer bong”. Not Exactly! It looks more like doing a body shot or drinking Champagne at the "Y" than a Beer Bong.

I first experienced seeing a beer bong at a tailgate party, before a Jimmy Buffett concert, 17 years ago. I said “Wow, what will they think of next”? I was then informed that the practice of beer bonging had been a popular college campus activity for years. And that it was especially popular with the female students.

For the uninitiated, a beer bong is a device with a funnel attached to plastic tubing. The end of the tube is then placed in your mouth and pinched closed near the top. The funnel is then filled with beer and the pinch on the tube is released so that the beer flows rapidly into your mouth and down your throat.

I’ve never participated in one of these events; however it is fun to watch. Occasionally the participant will have beer shooting out of her nose, or worse yet, she will vomit. Obviously doing a beer bong is not an advisable thing to do after you have just eaten. However, if you are bulimic it serves the purpose well.

When I was a youth, back in the “Toga Party Era”, and before there were beer cans with pop tops, we had a similar drinking event. It was called the Shotgun. We would shake a can of beer; put it as close to our open mouth as possible and then open it with a church key. More of the beer would end up running down our chins than in our mouths. Another favorite was chugging a 60 ounce pitcher of draft beer. This was a timed event and the loser would have to pay for the beer. It's a shameful thing to say but I rarely paid for my pitcher of beer.

The foibles of youth, including my own, never cease to amaze me.

The Beach Bum

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

"I Didn't Do It For You"

This morning I received an email from an acquaintance here in Florida who had just read British Author and Journalist, Michela Wrong’s book “I Didn’t Do It For You”. One of the chapters in this book features me as the main antagonist. The title of this chapter is "Blow Jobs, Bugging and Beer". It is a well written work of non-fiction about the small African Nation of Eritrea and how the people living there have been screwed over and over again.

My friend said that she was “rolling on the floor laughing (ROFL)” when she read Chapter 10 of Michela’s book. And that the portrayal of me in the book was “so unlike the person” that she knew. Another comment that she made in her mail was “you actually have a human side”.

I have a lot of human faults and have always had them; however I generally do not let the people here in Florida know about by sordid past. The persona that I have here is different from the persona that I had in Maryland (where I had lived for 30 years), different from my younger days in Chicago and definitely different from the time that I spent in Eritrea in the mid 1960’s.

A former lover once called me a Chameleon and said that I changed my facade to suit the current situation. This was a clever observation that she had made. She asked me why I couldn’t just be myself, as I was with her. I told her was that there is a public me and a private me. She retorted that she enjoyed the private me much more than the public me. But which is the real me? Only my children and sister know the answer to this question.

I am an empathetic person by nature, but I have learned that you cannot allow anyone but your inner circle of friends and family know this fact. Therefore I disguise myself with the facade of the other me. It’s like a dual personality or an alter ego. Just like the Chameleon, I adapt to my current situation, looking for self-preservation.

I can’t lie about my past but I have learned how to skillfully evade questions about that past. I’ve become very good at telling half truths and dancing around a subject. The only time that I have a problem skirting the issues is when I have been drinking alcohol to excess. I often do this with family and friends, but rarely with acquaintances. In Vino Veritas!

"I Didn't Do It For You" by Michela Wrong is available on - there is a convenient link to Amazon on the right sidebar of this Blog.

The Beach Bum

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Friday, April 20, 2007

For Your Viewing Pleasure

Thursday night is one of the few nights that I watch regular (non-cable) network television. I began doing this when my son was living with me. He liked the Thursday night CBS lineup, especially the Survivor series and CSI. He told me that I should get out of my rut of “watching the same old reruns” over and over again. He would say “How many times have you seen this episode or that episode”. He was right; I needed to expand my sphere of television viewing.

The first thing that I noticed while watching, what I call, regular television is that there is a greater variety of commercials. The cable channels tend to show the same old commercials over and over again. After Prime Time you might see the same Ad 6 times during an one hour program. I like good commercials and don’t mind watching them, but there are very few good commercials on Cable television.

I had rarely watched CSI, although the reruns are available on several of the Cable Channels that I view on a regular basis. It takes place in Las Vegas and I have a have an aversion to anything that has to do with Las Vegas. Putting my sentiments aside I now watch CSI. It is fairly well written; the plots are good although they are unrealistic. But you can say this of most police and crime programming on television.

I had watched the first season of Survivor, missing only one episode. When it got down to the final 4, I recall that one of the women went on a tirade saying that two of the other finalists were a Snake and a Rat. At this point, I realized that this program was all about the fine art of back stabbing. I stopped watching after the first season.

This reminded me of the time that I had spent in Asmara, Eritrea, Ethiopia (Eritrea won it’s independence from Ethiopia in 1993). A friend that I called Fat Mike (although he preferred to be called Gross Mike) and I, plus other friends, would play a board game called Risk. The object of this game was World Domination. An interesting concept for a bunch of Viet Nam era GI's.

As in the Survivor series, it was essential to make an alliance with one or more of the other 5 players in the game. Forming an alliance with Fat Mike was usually beneficial in the early rounds of the game, as he was a very aggressive player. He would negotiate two to four alliances at the beginning of the first round to eliminate the weaker players first. One of the players would usually be out of the game before the fourth round. The next player would go down in the next round, leaving only 4 players in the game.

Fat Mike was the best Back Stabber in the game of Risk and therefore he usually won the game. Although we all knew this, we would still make an alliance with him, knowing that he would eventually turn on us, his ally; that was the nature of the game. We all thought that we could build enough armies to fend off his back stabbing tactics. Fat Mike was the Snake. Others of us took turns at being the Rat. The Snake usually ate the Rat.

Every Survivor episode that I watch reminds me of Fat Mike. Good memories from many years ago. And that is why I continue to watch this asinine program.

The Beach Bum

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Crawling Critters

Yesterday I returned home from the 6 day - five night all expenses paid trip to my daughter’s palatial estate in Hernando County, Florida; 65 miles north of my home in Treasure Island.

The worst part of the trip was getting there and then coming back home. It requires that you drive on several high-speed multi-lane Interstate roads. If you don’t drive over the speed limit (70mph), you better stay in the right lane, except to pass the sensible person who is driving at 60mph. Some of the drivers were driving in access of 80mph, tailgating and switching lanes often. This scares me. I am not a good passenger to have in an automobile, as I have a morbid fear of crashing, dying or even worse being crippled for life.

Other than the fact that I was able to get very little sleep on the first night there (strange noises awaken me), I had a fairly pleasant six days. I spent a lot of time sitting by the pool, sipping Vodka and beer, playing with the dogs and playing with and talking to my other (older) daughter’s children, who were there for the weekend.

After arriving at my home, my first visit was to the bathroom; after riding in an automobile for 75 minutes (and drinking 3 beers in the process; to calm my nerves), this was a major necessity. When I clicked the light on, I noticed two dead Palmetto Bugs lying on the Bathroom floor upside down. I had sprayed just before I departed for my daughter’s home

The Palmetto Bug (or Water Bug) is a common euphemism for a gigantic cockroach that inhabits many of our southern states. The Spanish speaking people here call them La Cucaracha Grande. It’s one hell of a big roach, sometimes reaching 3 inches in length. Plus they can fly and have a hard shell exterior. I have stepped on them before and they will keep moving afterwards.

I don’t have Entomophobia. Bugs (insects) in general, do not bug me and I do not fear them. Some are just ugly creatures and have no place in my house. If they would just stay outside where they belong, I would never attempt to exterminate them.

Here on the Beach we rarely see Mosquitoes or Flies, which are the bugs that I most detest the most. I rather fight off the Palmettos, than be inundated with flies and mosquitoes. For me it’s a good trade-off.

The Beach Bum

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Going to the Dogs

I’ll be away from the Blogosphere for the next 5 days, and probably having Blogging withdrawal symptoms. I’ll be spending those days at my Daughter’s home and will be sitting near the swimming pool sipping Bloody Mary’s, drinking Beer, reading the Newspaper, watching the Cubs lose and doing Crossword Puzzles during most of these days.

In actuality, I only would have to be there for one day, but, because I have an aversion to driving (Phobia), I will be spending the next five days poolside. Today is the most convenient time for her to transport me to her house.

Although it may sound like a good time, I do not relish the spending of 5 days at her home. I don’t sleep very well when I am there. Subsequently, because I have more waking hours, I tend to drink and smoke more than normal.

The reason for my visit is to Dog Sit. My daughter and her husband have two American Bull Dogs that are nearly 2 years old. These dogs are often confused with the American Bull Terrier (AKA Pit Bulls). They look very similar but her dogs are larger and gentler than the average Pit Bull. For one day out of my five day visit I will have to walk and feed them.

I like these dogs, except when they lick my face or jump up on my lap. They are not lap dogs as they weigh over 70lbs. But they seemingly love me and are extremely happy when I come to visit, therefore I tolerate their behavior. They still think that they are puppies and want to sit on my lap as they had done in the past.

The reason for the necessity of my being there for one day is interesting.

My daughter found that she had a credit with Southwest Airlines that she hadn’t used. She had forgotten about a canceled flight. The credit must be used before April 17th. She had not planed to fly before going to Maryland for Mother’s Day, and therefore the credit would be lost.

My daughter tends to think as I do. Why just give this money away. She noticed that there were Southwest Airlines Ding Fares from Tampa to both Fort Lauderdale and Miami. She booked these flights for next Tuesday, the last day of her credit. First, she flies to Miami and an hour later flies back to Tampa. She then sits sipping a cocktail in Tampa before her flight to Ft. Lauderdale. After a few hours in Ft. Lauderdale she will return back to Tampa, probably sipping a few more cocktails while waiting for her return flight back to Tampa.

At first I thought that this was madness. Then she told me that this would give her 4 Southwest credits towards a free flight to anywhere that Southwest Airlines flies. It would put her and her husband in a position to get a free round trip to Hawaii either this or next year.

I imagine that I will probably have to dog sit while they are gone.

The Beach Bum

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Stand By Your Man

Today, I read in the Newspaper that Kurt Vonnegut died yesterday. As a general rule I do not watch Television Newscasts, therefore I get my news a day later. I like the print media much better because it forces me to use my mind.

Kurt Vonnegut was not one of my favorite authors, but I did like some of his stories and the way that he crafted them. His biting sarcasm and satire of societal norms made for interesting reading.

I was still in the Army when I read my first Vonnegut book in the late 1960’s. “Welcome to the Monkey House” was a collection of short stories and essays. Some of his writing in this book intrigued me. For the most part it was very well written. However some of it was what I call meaningless drivel.

Unfortunately I had seen the Movie, Slaughterhouse-Five, before I had read the book. The Movie was good but the book was better. So much better, that I believed that Vonnegut would never surpass this effort, and I believe that was right. I read a few more of his books after Slaughterhouse-Five, but they didn’t have the same cutting edge.

I wondered, while reading this book, if Vonnegut had been experimenting with LSD during the time that he wrote the novel. Like me, he was a cigarette smoker and drinker of alcoholic beverages. Regardless, the book was a very good read.

I didn’t agree with Kurt’s politics, he leaned a little too far to the left for my liking. He recently had been very outspoken about the current War in Iraq and had been highly critical of the current Bush Administration. He refers to Bush as a “Childlike President” who was “installed in power by a Mickey Mouse coup d’etat.” Last year Vonnegut said “Honestly, I wish Nixon were president.” And he disliked President Richard M. Nixon as much as I do.

I’m not particularly fond of George W. Bush either, but as Lazlo Toth (Don Novello) would sign his famous “Letters” we should “Stand by our President”.

The Beach Bum

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I Wish I Was Cary Grant

I did a very unintelligent thing last night. Lately I’ve been doing and saying a lot of stupid things. Sometimes I lose my sense of level-headedness and do these irrational things.

I haven’t had any female companionship for nearly one year. But this is not by chance, but by choice. I am very particular about the women with whom I share my time. Unfortunately, most of the women that I desire, have no desire for me.

Last night I was watching late night television and saw a commercial for E Harmony.Com over and over again. They do this often on late night/early morning Cable Television. Being the horny idiot that I am, I went to their Website and spent 20 or more minutes filling out their compatibility survey. I answered all the questions honestly. They almost promise to find a match for everyone based on compatibility. At least, that’s what the PHD, who is their spokesperson, says on their television commercial.

After I filled out all of their questionnaires, they said that I had no compatibility with anyone in their database. Maybe if I had lied, I would have had a better chance making a match on E Harmony. I wonder how many people do lie. E Harmony is very proud of their success rate of getting couples together. This is what they say this on their Television Commercials and on their Website.

Perhaps it was the fact that I stated that I was unemployed and was looking for a woman that was successful and made lots of money that disqualified me. Or it could have been that I confessed that I am a heavy drinker and smoker.

My other requirement was that she was 45 years old or younger. I am over 60 years old and do not lie about my age to a woman. Most women still guess that I am in my early to mid fifties. Fifteen years a go I had a lot of success dating younger women; some were even younger than my daughter. But that was fifteen years ago. when I was still in my 40’s and appeared to be in my thirties.

In 1965, Cary Grant married Dyan Cannon, who was 33 years younger than Cary. I’ve always said that I wished that I were Cary Grant. In an interview, Cary Grant once said "We all wish we were Cary Grant. Sometimes I wish I was Cary Grant." Cary Grant was the quintessential Ladies man and I had always envied Cary's way with women. I wanted to be Cary Grant, or at least to be his on screen persona. To this day, I still wish that I was Cary Grant.

The comedian Buddy Hackett often said that for every man, there is a woman; after that he would ask the audience,” Which one of you guys has two of them?” These are my sentiments exactly!

The Beach Bum

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Is This "The Year"?

I spent this afternoon watching the Chicago Cubs Home Opener against the Houston Astros on WGN Television. Although the Cubs lost, I still enjoyed watching the game. As a Cubs fan for more than 50 years, I am accustomed to seeing them lose. The relief pitching, which the Baseball pundits say is the best in the NL Central, blew the game.

It was good to see Wrigley Field again. The ivy that Bill Veeck planted on the outfield walls in the 1950’s was still brown, but the field itself looked as beautiful as ever. They have even re-painted the Scoreboard this year. I wasn’t too happy with the Ad that was placed on the outfield door, but it was not as bad as some of the other MLB Parks’ advertising displays.

I was hoping to see the son of one of my close friends when WGN panned the bleachers. I didn’t see him, but I know that he was there. Brad Zibung is the founder of a Website and Paper, named “The Heckler”. Brad is also a Chicago Cub Bleacher Bum. He is sarcastic and has a biting sense of humor; more like me than like his father. I admire his writing in the Heckler.

Not that Len Casper and Bob Brenly are bad broadcasters, but I really do miss Harry Caray and Steve Stone. Stone’s knowledge of the game and Caray’s witticisms made watching the Cubs lose more enjoyable. Harry would go mush-mouth from drinking too many Budweiser’s before the 7th inning stretch. After that point Steve would have to do both the play by play and the color commentary. Harry would rattle on about golf and fishing trips while Stoney called the game. And I really loved it when Harry would mispronounce a player's name or call a player by the wrong name.

The Cubs motto for this season is “This is the Year”. In the five games that I have seen, they could be right. The potential for a championship season is there. But I say that almost every year. Potential verses the actuality of a winning season is a Horse of another Color.

The Beach Bum

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Easter Bunny

On Friday I received an email from a good friend with the picture on the left attached to the mail. The caption was “Due to circumstances beyond our control, the Easter Egg Hunt is canceled this year”.

I laughed and thought to myself that my friend, as I do, has that Gary Larson (The Far Side cartoonist) sense of humor.

When I was a child we didn’t have Easter Egg Hunts. I had seen cartoons on television where a bunny rabbit would be running around and hiding the Easter Eggs. This action usually took place in a wooded area with high grass and shrubbery. My old Chicago neighborhood had none of this. One year I suggested to my Dad that he take my sister and me to a nearby Forest Preserve to look for the Easter Bunny’s eggs. That’s when I learned that there was no such thing as an Easter Bunny. Next, I thought, Dad would be telling me that there was no Santa Claus.

We colored our eggs on Good Friday. We used small pieces of tape to make the sign of the cross on each egg before we put them into the dye (my sister says that this is now done with wax or a white crayon). Every egg would have a white cross on it when we were finished with coloring them. My Dad would say that this symbolized our love for our Lord, Jesus Christ.

On Holy Saturday, we would fill baskets with meat, bread and the colored eggs and take them to the Church to have them blessed. After a short mass and benediction, the Monsignor would say something in Latin, which none of us really understood. He then sent the priests out with a scepter type devices, that they dipped into Holy Water, to splash on our baskets filled with food. He would then say something in English, asking us all, too, in charity, remember all those who suffer want and hunger. They then passed the basket for donations.

My Dad would fast on Holy Saturday. I never did understand the reason for fasting. I occasionally fast now, but it is for health, not religious, reasons.

The Feast of Easter was always one of my favorite days. After Church we would gather at my Grandmother’s home and the food was out of this world delicious. Almost better than the food that the neighborhood Italian families would have for the Feast of Saint Joseph on March 19th.

Very fond memories, Happy Easter.

The Beach Bum

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Posting Comments

Today I received a comment on one of my Blogs; Double Dipping. I like receiving comments whether they are complimentary or derogatory in nature. First it tells me that someone has actually read what I had written. And secondly they give me direction. Unfortunately I do not get very many comments. To me this means that I do not get very many readers that were interested in what I had written.

The comment was made by a person named Donna. Donna could be just about anyone. Many people on the Internet use pseudonyms as well as false pictures of themselves. For all I know Donna could actually be Rosie O’Donnell; Rosie could be angry with me for saying some bad things about her in one of my previous Blogs. On the other hand it could be one of my friends being mischievous. I don’t know and I really don’t care. At least the person took the time to post a comment.

The comment did, however, strike a chord within the windmills of my mind. There were two words that bothered me; they were Sexist and Misogynist. These are two words of very powerful meaning and shouldn’t be bantered about without careful thought.

In my life I’ve been called a lot of things that have ended with the suffix -IST. One of the definitions in Webster’s Unabridged is “one that adheres to or advocates a (specified) doctrine or system or code of behavior”.

Some of these terms that have been used to describe my demeanor or philosophy are true. But, I have never been called either a Sexist or a Misogynist. People that know and understand me, realize that it is just my warped sense of humor and my drunkenness that makes me say and write the things that I do.

I have said some terrible things during my lifetime and I have probably hurt people in the process. In most cases I was just being truthful and speaking my mind. I often do this without thinking of the ramifications involved. Often the truth is not pretty and it hurts others. My Dad always told me “make sure that you put your brain into gear before you run your mouth”. I’ve always had a problem with heeding this advice.

“Truthful words are not beautiful; beautiful words are not truthful.” - Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher.

As a writer, I strive for the truthful words rather than the beautiful words to speak my convictions. Therefore, I rarely use the beautiful words. Truthful words are words that will stand by themselves; they are the concepts and ideas that have been embedded on the psyche and have become part of our thinking process. They are honest heartfelt words that are not used in vain when spoken or written.

The Beach Bum

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

I Dig Rock and Roll Music

Last week, one of my favorite Bloggers wrote a piece titled “New NO PRIZE contest: Name the worst 70's song EVER”, it was concerning the worst songs of the 1970’s. He said that “the 70's were a Golden Era of horrible songs” and that there “were songs that make you queasy all over... .that make your flesh crawl.”

I must agree with him on some his selections. However I think that every decade has had it’s share of horrible but popular songs. Some were much more annoying than anything that came out of the 1970’s; with the possible exception of all 1970’s Disco Music. Many of those disco songs did make my flesh crawl.

One of favorite musicians and songwriters, Bruce Springsteen emerged in the 1970’s. He simultaneously made the covers of both Time and Newsweek Magazines in 1975. I first took note of him in 1972; I loved his lyrics because they reminded me of early Bob Dylan lyrics.

What about Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, the Doobie Brothers, Elton John, Grand Funk Railroad, Billy Joel and the Eagles. These people put out a lot of great music in the 1970.s. I was always a Rock and Roll and R&B fan. I also liked what we had called head (or stoner) music; Jethro Tull, The Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd.

The blogger must have been listening to the wrong radio stations. Probably Casey Kasem’s American Top 40. He mentions WLS in Chicago, which, as a teen, was my favorite radio station. Dick Biondi, “the Wild Itralian” was my favorite DJ in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. It was a station that played young people’s music. As times change, so does the music that is played on the radio, especially on a station that caters to youth. What was in fashion yesterday may not be in fashion today. But a lot of the 1970’s music has endured the test of time. Nearly two generation later, young people listen to and can recite the lyrics to these songs.

My parents could not understand why I listened and enjoyed the music on WLS. They had thought that they had taught me to have better musical taste. I attempted to explain to them that it was the music of my generation. I still liked Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Nat “King” Cole; but Elvis Presley, the Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly excited me a little more.

One of the songs that were mentioned on the Blog was “Seasons in the Sun” performed by Terry Jacks. I like the song but not necessarily the Terry Jacks’ version. I first heard it in December of 1963. It was on The Kingston Trio’s Album “Time to Think”. The featured song on this album was “Song for a Friend” written by John Stewart and dedicated to the memory of JFK. In the liner notes “The Trio” (probably written by John Stewart) wrote – “Honest songs have always left a mark in their particular era. For songs springing from real emotion will forever ring true and therefore find meaning with each new generation.”

The Beach Bum

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Double Dipping

While sifting through my email today, I found a link to an interesting BBC on-line News article. The article was titled “Condom testers required by Durex”.

“The condom maker wants a panel of 5,000 people who are single, married, or in couples to report their experiences of using its condoms and lubricants. Men and women of all ages, ethnic groups or sexual orientation have been asked to apply on its website” Durex.Com.

When I was a teen, I used a condom mainly for the purpose of preventing an unwanted pregnancy; I had seen the movie “Splendor in the Grass”. Back then we didn’t call them condoms; we called them rubbers or prophylactics. These packages of prophylactics said “For Prevention of Disease Only”.

While giving me the “birds and the bees” lecture, at age 15, my Dad, who was a devout Catholic, strongly suggested that I use protection. The word protection carried the connotation of wearing a condom. Dad never could speak the words rubber or prophylactic, as it was against the Catholic Church’s policy to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.

I can remember buying my first pack of rubbers at a local drug store. At first, I was embarrassed to ask for them. I sat at the food counter in this drug store and ordered a soda while mustering up enough courage to walk up to the clerk and ask for them. My knees were shaking a little bit. “I would like a pack of ribbed Trojans” I said. The female clerk replied “3, 6 or 12”. I said “three for now". My face must have been as red as a beet. I made my purchase and exited the store very quickly.

I was sixteen years old and had been planning my first sexual encounter for months. Now I was ready, I had my protection. Unfortunately she wasn’t ready. Usually after some kissing and heavy petting, she would send me home sexually frustrated. I went through this for about 3 months before I was able to use one of those three rubbers; I only hoped that they hadn’t gone bad or had a hole in them. In the old days they were sheepskin not latex.

I don’t enjoy using condoms, I prefer riding, as they say, bareback. It feels much better to me. I’m not sure if it feels any different to a woman when a man is wearing a condom; I have never asked. But it does feel different to me. No matter how lubricated they are, condoms do not give me the same feeling as the real thing. The final result is the same, but the process is not as pleasurable. I guess that I have been lucky as I have never contracted a venereal disease.

Being a condom tester would be the perfect job for me. It would even be better if the condom manufacturer also provided a subject to perform these test with; preferably in her late teens or early twenties. At the same time I could moonlight, as Al Capp’s Li’l Abner did, as a mattress tester. It would be two great jobs in one.

The Beach Bum

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Joys of the New Season

I haven’t posted anything to this Blog during the past three days. For some reason I feel negligent and guilty. I’ve let my personal life and passions get in the way of my blogging.

On Saturday I spent most of the day participating in my Fantasy Baseball League Draft. It is a money league and has been around for 25 or more years. As I did not fare to well last year, I spent most of the morning studying and rehashing my list of the Players that I preferred on my team. I made some bad choices last year.

The draft started at 1600 hours and lasted for nearly 5 hours. The draft is held in Forest Park, Illinois, so I and several other team owners linked up using our computers via a chat room. The draft is a social event for most of the people who attend; meaning drinking beer and eating Pizza. I haven’t attended in person for four years; leaving the warmth of Florida for Chicago in March does not appeal to me. So to keep up with the spirit of the draft, I drank my first beer before noon.

I spent most of Sunday analyzing my picks and answering telephone calls. I usually do not get or make a lot of calls. Sunday was the exception! I must have spent an aggregate four hours on the phone. I had planned to write a Blog but by this time my mind was too addled. Plus the first game of the 2007 season was coming on shortly.

What can I say about Monday – it was Opening Day. I started with ESPN Sport’s Center and Baseball Tonight before the first game started at 1300 hours. I had access to every game that was played yesterday. I watch the Cubs’ game in it’s entirety but toggled my digital cable remote to other games while they were changing sides. The last game ended shortly before one in the morning. Again, I had my first beer before noon.

The Cubs lost! However this may not be a harbinger for this upcoming season. Last year they won their season’s opener against Cincinnati and went downhill from there. The team is healthy and seemingly very enthusiastic about playing the game. These are extremely important factors in the game of Baseball.

I hope that it was just a case of “opening day” jitters and the excitement of the day. The reining World Series Champions also lost their first game of the season, and on paper they are the second best team in Major League Baseball.

On another note, concerning Baseball; The Chicago Tribune has been sold and the new owner Sam Zell is planning to sell the Cubs. After I read more about this I will Blog on this subject.

The Beach Bum

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