Rolando: One Eyebrow Short…

April 30th, 2016

Last week I had this weird experience where a childhood memory just popped into my head.

Now I’m not talking about when something triggers a childhood memory and you relive the experience–no, not one of those experiences.

I’m saying the damn thing just appeared out of no where. I must’ve suppressed that childhood memory because I had no recollection of it prior to that moment, but it all came flooding back in a flash.

And with it came a tide of  shame and embarrassment, followed by confusion and  a whole lot of unanswered questions.

‘Oh, shit,’ I thought when the memory first popped into my head, ‘I shaved one of my eyebrows off when I was a kid. Why the hell did I shave my eyebrow off?’

I don’t remember all the details of the incident, but I had to be around six or seven-years-old and was taking a bath when I somehow got a hold of my dad’s razor.

I don’t remember actually shaving my eyebrow entirely off, either. I just remember walking into my parents’ room after I got out of the bathtub and the horrified look on my mom’s face.

“Oh my God, what did you do to your face?” she screamed, with a look of complete horror on her face as she gasped.

Instantly I knew I had done something wrong. I played dumb and tried to defuse the situation: “What? What are you talking about?”

“What happened to your eyebrow?” she screamed. “It’s gone.”

A feeling of panic cut through my body as I tried to find an explanation that made sense. Whatever reason I originally had to shave off my own eyebrow wasn’t going to cut it. 

 I came up with the best excuse my young mind could find: “It just happened. I didn’t do anything.”

That pissed my mom off even more.

“Your eyebrow didn’t fall off your face, Rolandito,” she snapped. “Were you playing with your father’s razor?”


“Don’t lie to me, boy.”

“No, mommy.”

“I’m calling your father. Rolando come see what Rolandito did.”

I heard some foot steps from down the hall and then my dad was in the room looking down at me, trying to figure out what it was my mom was all upset about.

“What happened to your eyebrow?” he asked, more confused than angry.

“He shaved it off,” my mom said before I could answer.

“No I didn’t, it just happened,” I said,  still playing dumb.

“Boy, eyebrows just don’t fall off faces,” my dad said. “Were you playing with my razor?”

“No,” I said on the verge of tears. “It just happened.”

“Rolandito, don’t lie to me again,” my dad said, his face as serious as could be.

I knew I was busted, so I came clean.

“Yeah,” I said as I stared at the floor, ashamed that I was caught in a lie.

“Why in the world would you shave your eyebrow off, Rolandito?” my mom asked, her tone changing from anger to flat out confusion.

I didn’t have an excuse, or at least I don’t remember what the original reason why I decided to shave one of my eyebrows off.

All I remember was that a few minutes after admitting that I had played with my dad’s razor, and cut of an eyebrow in the process, something strange and confusing happened.

Both my parents started laughing, I mean, doubled-over with tears in their eyes, they were laughing so hard.

And looking back I can see why. There was their little boy, their first born, wrapped in a bath towel, sopping wet and scared, with one eyebrow.

They laughed for a long time before they were able to settle down and be serious enough to scold me for my actions.

In the end I was relieved that all I got was a scolding. I guess they figured that walking around with one eyebrow for the week or so it would take for the other one to grow back was punishement enough.

But part of me wonders if they didn’t give me a spanking because they felt sorry for me. I mean, shaving off my own eyebrow? Maybe they felt like it was a sign that I was a little touched, that I had special needs.

You know, one eyebrow short….

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Randolph Street: Oldies

April 29th, 2016



2Green Island, Iowa




4Vicksburg, Mississippi


Hiway 61Duluth, Minnesota


All photos © Jon Randolph

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Benny Jay: Purple Prince

April 28th, 2016

For the better part of the last few days, I’ve been watching dozens and dozens of Prince videos on my computer.

It’s like if I watch enough videos, he’ll come back to life.

Though we know that’s not going to happen.

There are so many classics.

Like the one where he’s on stage with Michael Jackson and James Brown.

I’m like–Prince, nooo, don’t grab that street lamp thing…

Or the one where he’s on stage at the George Harrison tribute, playing lead on While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

He slays that solo!

Or his Super Bowl show, in the pouring rain, where he pays tribute to Jimi Hendrix with a brief, bluesy version of All Along The Watchtower.

Let’s face it–Jimi Hendrix was Prince before Prince was Prince.

And my absolute favorite–at least for the moment–where he’s alone on stage for a sound check at a big stadium in Japan and he starts playing Summertime.

Man, George Gershwin himself never played it so well.

princeandapolloniaPrince & Apollonia…


There’s also the tributes that others have made to Prince. Seems like everyone’s singing Purple Rain–Bruce Springsteen, Adam Levine.

I’ve been singing it a lot myself these days.

I’ve got the last images of the movie constantly running through my brain.

There’s Prince on stage singing the song. And there’s Morris Day in the crowd singing along, cause he knows Prince really got the best of him in their competition.

And Billy, the club owner, also singing along.

As is Apollonia.

And Wendy & Lisa on guitars. No man ever had so many women in his band. Prince was way ahead of his time.

People in the crowd are waving their arms back and forth.

From there, I flash to other scenes from the movie, while the song’s playing in the background of my brain…

Prince making love to Apollonia in a barn. I think it’s a barn. Where did they find a barn in Minneapolis?

And Prince rushing into his house to keep his dad from beating up his mom.

And Prince racing across the bridge on his motorcycle.

The bridge they lit up in purple after he died.

Yeah, man, I can’t get enough of Prince these days.

Wish I could bring him back…

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No Blaise: Getting GOT

April 27th, 2016

Hey, have you guys ever  heard of a show called Game of Thrones? Did you know it’s on it’s sixth season? I bet you did, since 95% of the worlds population has seen every episode. Except, of course, me!

I went to a Game of Thrones premiere BBQ on Sunday, except I didn’t know it was a Game of Thrones premiere BBQ because I’ve been too busy watching the all too relevant television show, X-Files. So, I’m at the BBQ with my roommate Katie, and around 8 everyone at the BBQ is all, “Oh my god, the show’s starting!” and me and Katie are all like, “Ok, bye!”

Which worked out fine, because 8 is my bed time anyway.

Apparently, just being in the presence of people who watch Game of Thrones made me feel inclined to start watching. So, Monday night I started Game of Thrones. From the beginning. I should mention that each episode is an hour long, and consists of as much content as an entire series of most other television shows.

It’s smart of me to start a series five seasons behind just as a new season comes out. Especially since it’s a show that literally gets posted about every day all day on social media. The silver lining is that the shows has so many names in it that I have no idea what people are talking about on social media.

If I tried to post a status at this point it would read something like: “Oh shit, that one guy killed the cool guys friend!” or “That blonde ladies outfit was on point tonight” or “They killed a dog :(

Oh wait. I do know one persons name: Jon Snow. I know it because he’s a real cutie.

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Am I right, or am I right?


This series will probably now take up 95% of my free time.

If anyone needs me for the next few months-years, I’ll either be teaching children something (hopefully), watching Game of Thrones, or asleep.

I’ve actually already had two of my worlds interact, the “Game of Thrones” theme came on Pandora today as the kids were working quietly and so m any of them said, “Oh my god, this is the Game of Thrones theme song!” and we all giggled in excitement.

This is who I am now.

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Benny Jay: Weird Man

April 26th, 2016

Champagne bottles are popping at The Third City because…

Weird Al is number 1!!!

That is — Weird Al Yankovic, one of the premier artists of our time, has the number-one selling CD in all the land.

It’s called Mandatory Fun, it features his chart-topping single, Tacky — a parody of Happy. And it’s the first comedy record to hit the top spot since 1963, with My Son, the Nut by Allan Sherman.

Speaking of geniuses.

Actually, I might be Weird Al’s only fan at TTC.

As near as I can tell no one likes Weird Al cause 1.) he’s a parodist, so they think he’s not really an artist. Like parody is easy to do. And 2.) he looks really nerdy.

That doesn’t keep my from trying to win them over. I’m always emailing my friends links of Weird Al videos, along with notes like…

“I think you’ll like this one.”


“Forget all the others — you’ll really like this!



The great Mr. Sherman…


And they’ll write back things like…

“I don’t find this funny.”


“I can’t believe you find this funny!”


“Stop sending me Weird Al shit!”

I will now take a break to list the three greatest Weird Al bits of all time.

Amish Paradise, Eat It, his fake interview with Bruce Springsteen, and Bob, his Dylan parody done in palindromes. Do you know how hard that is, people?

I know that’s four. But limiting this man’s 30-years of genius to three is like eating just one piece of fried chicken — it can’t be done!

I even have a hard time coming up with my favorite line from a single song.

For instance, I’ll be thinking this is the greatest line from Eat It (imagine it sung to Michael Jackson’s Beat It)…



We love you, Weird Al!


“Just eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it
Get yourself an egg and beat it…”

But then I’ll think — no, this one’s funnier…

“Have some more chicken, have some more pie
It doesn’t matter if it’s boiled or fried
Just eat it, eat it, just eat it, eat it…”

Then, I think — no, this is the funniest!

“Don’t want no Captain Crunch, don’t want no Raisin Bran
Well, don’t you know that other kids are starving in Japan
So eat it, just eat it…”

At this point, I’d like to introduce you to Jennie. She works with my wife, and, yes, she too loves Weird Al!

So we are not alone, my friends!

She was a skeptic till she saw Weird Al in concert. “That’s when I knew — he’s a genius!”

For sometime, Jennie and I have been sending my wife links to Weird Al songs in the hopes that she will see the light.

Alas, I think my wife’s about to hire a lawyer to send us a Weird Al cease-and-desist letter.

In any event, congratulations on being number 1, Weird Al. You deserve it!

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Letter From Milo: When the Grass Goes Bad

April 25th, 2016

I’ve probably got the worst looking front lawn on Eastwood Avenue. It’s an epic eyesore, a pathetic patch of ground, mostly bare dirt and weeds, with a few tufts of grass making a valiant effort to survive in extremely inhospitable conditions.

The lawn is so ugly that dogs won’t even shit on it. I’ve actually seen the neighborhood mutts disdainfully eying my lawn, before deciding to trot across the street to find a more aesthetically pleasing spot to do their business.

I suppose it’s my fault that the front yard is in such terrible condition. Other than mowing the lawn once in a while, I don’t pay much attention to it. I’m a practical guy. I understand the utility of grass, especially to ruminants, but I don’t see the value in a well-maintained lawn.

In fact, there are a lot of downsides to keeping an immaculate lawn. For one thing, it’s a time-consuming business. Mowing, edging, weeding, fertilizing and watering a lawn uses up precious hours that could be better spent in drinking, smoking reefer, having sex, playing poker or taking naps.

Another negative aspect of maintaining a high-quality lawn is the expense. The tools necessary to care for a lawn – mowers, edgers, weed-wackers, clippers, etc. – cost a pretty penny, money that could certainly be put to better use. Several of my foolish neighbors have actually spent good money hiring lawn care companies to come by once a week to keep their lawns looking spiffy.

I refuse to invest time and money in something that serves no useful purpose, something that I consider to be absolutely worthless. That said, not everyone shares my low opinion of lawns.

My wife, the lovely Mrs. Milo, has been nagging me for years to do something about the lawn.

“Milo, the lawn is getting really nasty. It looks worse every year. Can’t you do something about it?”

“I don’t give a shit about the lawn.”

“I know you don’t, but the neighbors do.”

“Fuck the neighbors.”

“Well, I care about the lawn, too. I expect you to do something about it and do it soon. Do we understand each other?”

So, that’s how I found myself standing on the sidewalk in front of my house, staring at my wasteland of a front lawn, wondering how in the hell I was going to fix it. After giving it a great deal of thought, I came to the conclusion that the best thing to do was to cover the lawn in concrete and turn it into a handball court.

I was just about to go into the house and announce my decision to my wife, when I was interrupted by Leonard, a neighbor from across the street, who came up to me and said, “You’ve got lawn grubs. That’s why your lawn looks so shitty.”

“I’ve got what?”

“Lawn grubs. They eat grass roots. If you don’t do something about it, they’ll kill what’s left of your lawn. Eventually you’ll have to dig up this mess, treat it with pesticides and lay down new sod. You should have taken better care of your lawn.”

Leonard is a true lawn snob and I despise him for it. His lawn is immaculate. It looks like the 18th green at Augusta National. He spends his entire weekend, and parts of his weekdays, working on his lawn. I’ve actually seen him with a ruler, measuring the height of the grass before he mows it. He’s even got a digitally timed sprinkler system that automatically waters his yard, mornings and afternoons.

I don’t mind Leonard’s lawn obsession. We’ve all got our quirks. What pisses me off is his attitude. He looks down on people whose lawns don’t measure up to his high standards. I imagine he sees people like me, who care nothing for lawns, as lesser, deeply flawed beings.

Later that day, as I was enjoying a cigarette with my afternoon whiskey, I thought about the lawn grubs devastating my front yard. They had been on my mind ever since my earlier conversation with that arrogant bastard, Leonard. After having another drink I decided I had to see what these grubs looked like.

I grabbed a trowel, went to the front yard, and dug around until I found a few of the grubs. They were disgusting little things, a sickly shade of white and about an inch long. I rooted around some more until I had about a dozen of them in the trowel.

As I watched the grubs squirming on the trowel, I wondered how such tiny creatures could do so much damage. How long did it take them to ruin a lawn? How quickly did they reproduce? How soon did the damage become evident? Those were just a few of the thoughts going through my mind. Some of the thoughts, I must admit, were wicked.

As the sun started to set and it grew darker, I walked across the street and dropped the grubs on Leonard’s lawn.

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