All photos © Jon Randolph
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I’ve come to the realization that everyone’s a weather expert.
I understand it doesn’t take a whole lot to be an expert on the weather. All you need is an ability to read the weather page in your daily newspaper.
You don’t even have to know how to read, so long as you understand whatever language the weather person’s speaking when he or she tells you the weather.
I come from a long line of weather experts. My cousin Robert is particularly brilliant at interpreting weather fronts. You might want to talk to him before you take your next road trip.
My sister’s specialty is getting regular weather updates which she passes on to my mother, who passes them on to me.
Generally, in the form of a warning. As in….
“Benny, don’t go outside. Your sister says an ice-storm coming.”
Everyone in my family is a regular Tom Skilling!
I realize I, too, could be a weather expert, if I would only follow the weather report.
But I’ve never been a big fan of the weather report — even as a kid. It’s the thing that always came on right before the sports. So I sort of thought of it as the broccoli I had to eat before I got to the chocolate cake.
Wait! This news flash just in from my mother!!
“Your sister says it’s going to snow another nine inches and they may cancel our flight.”
They’re taking a trip to Florida.
“But, ma, your flight’s not till tomorrow,” I say.
“You sister says they may have such a backup of cancellations that they’ll have to cancel flights tomorrow.”
“What? Now she’s an expert on aviation? If this keeps up, she can get a job as an air-traffic controller.”
“Don’t be fresh…”
With all the cold weather, I’ve been inside watching The Sopranos!
Hold it! More breaking weather news!!!
My wife says that Barbara — a customer at her beauty parlor — predicted only an inch or two of snow. As opposed to the nine inches my sister says we’re getting.
Barbara made this prediction having consulted the weather screen on her iPad.
“Barbara said, `if you look at this front, you’ll see the storm’s actually going south of us,” my wife tells me.
Another front reader. Maybe I should introduce Barbara to cousin Robert.
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I have always been of the “ovaries before broveries” persuasion, and Galentines Day (aka Feb 13) has quickly become one of my favorite holidays. It’s also an excellent occasion to heavily decorate my house, send greeting cards, and drink, which are the three things I’m pretty much always looking to do.
Because this galentines day happens to fall during grad school midterms, I am using 95% of my brain to think of decorations and drink recipes, 3% towards midterms, and 2% towards my next meal.
That’s a ratio I feel good about.
It’s worth mentioning that I have exploded galentines day into galentines weekend. Instead of a quaint little gals brunch (been there done that) I made the executive decision to turn my house into the girliest place on earth by throwing a (relatively nonsexual) adult sleepover at my house, and then luring people to my house with the promises of drinks, sushi, and brunch.
So, essentially what I do every weekend, but with more decorations. Yay!
Being as pro-Galentine as I clearly am, I have pretty much tried to avoid taking in any information on the subject of the “other” holiday this weekend. Unfortunately, being in school to become a teacher means every single holiday gets brought up in at least one class cause my professors are all, “It could be cute to (include something to do with love, hearts, and math here)”.
One professor in particular decided to really push Valentines day on us a few weeks ago. “So, with these concepts it could be fun to tie them into the upcoming holiday. Who can tell me what holiday is coming up?”
9pm, when this class is over?
When my all female class doesn’t answer the professor proclaims, “Valentines Day!” To which my all female class again doesn’t answer because 99.9% of us are dating our masters degree.
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One day my daughter came home from college at Christmas break in a panic.
In so many words, she said…
There’s this novel–Rosaura a las Diez. By the great Argentinian novelist Marco Denevi.
I gotta read it, but I don’t own it. And I don’t know where I can find it. Where, oh where, can it be?
So I took the opportunity to tell her something an wise, old teacher once told me.
You can find everything you need at the library.
Sure enough, I went to the computer and discovered that Rosaura a las Diez was on the shelf at the Harold Washington library.
So she went downtown and checked out the book and all was well in the universe. Except…
This was December, 2012. And she went back to college and never returned the book!
It sat on her desk for months. Then I put it on my wife’s dresser.
Not sure why I did that. Probably cause I wanted to make my wife be the one who returned it.
Cause I was too embarrassed to return it–what with it being way overdue.
But my wife never got around to returning it.
We’d have conversations that went like this…
Me: You gotta return that book!
My wife: Why don’t you return it?
It sat on her dresser for at least a year. At some point she moved the book to a desk downstairs.
Not sure why. Probably cause that brought the book to the front door.
As though it could just walk out of the house and back to the library on its own.
Sorry, Mr. Denevi…
And so more time went by.
Then a few days ago I saw an article that said…
The library’s having an amnesty. Return overdue books and all fines will be forgiven–no questions asked.
To the library I went, book in hand. Nervously, I waited in line, expecting an exchange like this…
Clerk: You selfish bastard! Thousands went without this book because you didn’t return it.
Me: I didn’t do it. It’s my daughter’s fault–and my wife’s!
Nothing like that happened. The clerk couldn’t have been nicer.
He pointed out that the daily fine for an overdue book is 25 cents. And since the book’s been overdue for approximately 1,150 days, it’s amassed close to $300 in overdue fines.
But since there’s a $10 cap on fines, I only owed $10. And I don’t even owe that–cause of the amnesty.
I then blamed the whole thing on my daughter–and my wife.
To which he nodded, as if to say–yeah, right, that’s what they all say.
Anyway, all’s well that ends well. To those who, over the past three years, wanted to check out Rosaura a las diez, I apologize.
It’s not my fault!
I was out on my back porch, enjoying a cigarette with my morning whiskey, when I noticed Otis, the rotten bastard of an alley cat who’s made my life a living hell for the past 14 years, trotting through the back yard, carrying a dead mouse.A few hours later, while enjoying my afternoon whiskey, I saw him crawl under the backyard fence and head toward Virginia Street. This time he was toting a small package of what appeared to be catnip.
I didn’t give it much thought at the time. Otis does a lot of stupid shit, and I’ve got more important things to do than worry about what some dumbass cat is doing.
I should have been paying more attention. A couple of days later, I was accosted by the Widow Shimkus, who lives across the street. ”That disgusting cat of yours has been pestering my Fifi for weeks, and leaving dead mice and birds on my porch. Then, this morning, she ran off with that vile creature and was gone all day. She looked terrible when she dragged herself home.”
“I can’t be responsible for…”
“If you keep letting the cat run loose, I’m going to file a report with the Alderman.”
Over the next few days, I was confronted by several other women, all of them complaining about Otis.
Mrs. Popovich told me that she had seen Otis sneaking around with her cat, “Fluffy.”
Mrs. Houlihan angrily told me that her “Miss Juliet” was expecting kittens and she was positive Otis was to blame.
Crazy Connie, who lives with about 40 cats, sent me an e-mail, saying she had to chase Otis out of her back yard with a garden hose after she caught him trying to organize some sort of sex orgy.
Nobody knows Otis’ exact age. My wife took him to the vet shortly after he bamboozled his way into our household. The vet said Otis was about two or three. We’ve had him for 15 long years and that should make him about 18 years old, which is pretty old for a cat.
You’d think that after reaching a certain age, a person’s, or a cat’s, lusts would have been satisfied — if not satisfied, then tempered. I know that I have reached the age where getting laid is not at the top of my to-do list.
Although I still enjoy the old slap-and-tickle, I am no longer willing to crawl through two miles of molten lava and fight my way through a horde of rabid wolverines just on the off chance I might get some pussy.
Otis, apparently, feels differently.
I don’t mind Otis having his fun, but when his behavior begins to reflect poorly on me, that’s when I have a problem.
Besides, I hate when little old ladies give me a hard time. It brings back ugly memories of my misspent youth, when little old ladies were constantly bitching at me – my mother, the neighborhood biddies, schoolteachers, the rightfully concerned mothers of girls I was seeing, and the mothers of my friends, who correctly considered me a bad influence.
Enough was enough. I was sick and tired of getting grief for Otis’ wicked ways. I decided to straighten him out.
That afternoon, I found him in the back yard, lolling on the grass. He had just had his five o’clock catnip and was glassy-eyed, feeling no pain.
“Look here, dumbass,” I said to the cat. “I don’t know why an old bastard like you keeps trying to fuck all the fur balls in the neighborhood. If you haven’t gotten enough pussy by now, you’ll never catch up. But if you’re going to continue trying to screw every pussy cat in Ravenswood, then I wish you’d be more discreet.
“You’re a damned cat, for fuck’s sake. Sneakiness should come naturally to you. I don’t want any more old hags coming to my door, bitching at me because you knocked up their precious little Mitzy, Pookie or Buttercup.
“If this shit happens again, I’m taking your ass to the animal shelter. And I’m not talking about a no-kill shelter. Do we understand each other?”
Otis stared at me, blinking his eyes several times. Then he yawned, licked his nuts, rolled over, and went to sleep.
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As a scientific experiment to see how much I’ve evolved in the last three decades, I watch Trouble Man.
That’s the 1972 blackploitation movie in which Robert Hooks plays an exceedingly cool private investigator.
Back in the `70s, I loved that movie. So the question is…
Is it really a great movie? Or was I under the negative influence of one too many Pop Tarts–my old breakfast food of choice–when I originally watched it back in the day?
For an answer, I rent the movie from Netflix.
First things first…
The opening’s every bit as good as I remember–thanks to Marvin Gaye singing the title song.
That’s the one with the refrain that goes…
There’s only three things for sure
Taxes, death and trouble…
I must admit I went through a phase of my life where I’d sang my own version of that refrain that went like this…
“Taxes, death and Benny…”
Actually, I may still be living in that phase.
The movie begins with a gorgeous woman in a bikini, floating on a raft in a swiming pool outside of a mansion. Out of the mansion steps Hooks, looking very elegant. The dialogue goes like this…
Woman: Are you coming back, baby?
In other words, if you’re lucky, I might. But there’s plenty of fine woman in the world, so don’t think you’re so special, sugar.
Then he hops into his white Lincoln Continental and heads into L.A. as Marvin sings…
I come up hard baby, but now I’m cool
I didn’t make it sugar, playin’ by the rules…
I tell you what–opening scenes don’t get any cooler than that.
Unfortunately, it’s downhill from there. The action consists of Hooks gunning down one bad man after another, generally without even aiming his gun.
It’s hard to take the carnage seriously because the blood looks like pinkish-red fingernail polish.
Gordon Jump’s in Trouble Man…
The script’s not even that good. A typical line being: “Kiss my black ass.”
Nothing against that line, but on any given day you can hear some guy in Chicago saying the same thing.
Unless that guy is Frank Coconate. In which case, he’ll be saying: “Kiss my hairy Italian ass!”
The best part is suddenly seeing an actor who’s recognizable from another role. Like the guy with a bit part as a sleazy landlord.
I’m like–holy shit, that’s the dude from WKRP in Cincinnati!
The movie ends as it begins–with that sensational soundtrack.
Say what you will about the fingernail-polish blood–it’s got a soundtrack by Marvin Gaye.
Alfred Hitchcock could never say that.
In short, Marvin Gaye’s great. But the movie’s not as cool as I remember.
Blame it on the Pop Tarts
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