Benny Jay: Hacked!

April 17th, 2014

It has come to my attention that my AOL email account was hacked.

I don’t know who did the hacking.  I presume it was some malicious little fucker in eastern Europe, though I have not rule out Rahm Emanuel as a suspect.

Just kidding, Mayor Rahm.

l learned about the hacking from several email friends, who wrote or called to say something along the lines of — “Hey, man, you’ve been hacked.”

With an occasional f-bomb dropped here or there.

Apparently, the hacker or hackers sent emails to every address in my  address book, saying “Hi! news.”

That was followed by a link to a site which, for all I know, exposes someone to various forms of credit and/or identity theft.

I think it’s pretty obvious that I did not send out an email that says, “Hi! news.”

But just to be sure, allow me to issue the following statement…

I was hacked!

I hope that clarifies things.


For all I know, the hacker might have been this guy…


The episode raises some interesting questions about how one is supposed to respond to a suspicious message from a computer that’s obviously been hacked.

Some people were irritated, as in — “hey, fucker, stop sending me shit.”

Others were apologetic, as in: “You probably already know this, but just in case…”

Others responded as though I had done something wrong: “It’s a good idea to change your password every once in awhile…”

Others used it as an opportunity to rail against AOL — like Steve Case did the hacking himself.

Others took the opportunity to say something nice, like: BTW, how are you doing? Let’s have lunch.


Or this guy…


And, of course, there were a whole bunch of robo messages along the lines of — “so and so will be out of the office until April 21.”

In other cases, the hacking was educational. At least, it was how I learned that several people had left their old jobs.

The real good news is that I changed my password. So I hope it will be at least a few months before I get hacked again.

For what it’s worth, I have been thinking of changing my email account. Kind of sick of the AOL home page.

Of course, changing the account seems like a lot of work.

If I know me — and I’ve known me for quite awhile — I’ll be thinking about changing my email for at least another ten years. At which point, I’ll think about it some more.

In the meantime, sorry about the hacking. Though I swear had nothing to do with it.


Editor’s Note: Breaking news! This just in!! Benny’s email has been hacked — again!!! This time he really might have to get out of AOL…

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Benny Jay: Pack Mule Blues

April 15th, 2014

Saturday afternoon

I’m running late to drive cross town to meet my sister for lunch. I race to the garage, open the door, head for the car, only to discover…

The car’s piled high with boxes filled with stuff. My daughter’s stuff, to be exact. Shoes, blouses, shirts, pants, dresses, socks, books — you name it.

She’s moving from Chicago to California. And on Thursday my wife and I helped her move her stuff from her old apartment to the car.

At the time, they were giving me major amounts of shit. Saying I had a bad attitude. Said all I do I do is complain.

Can you believe this? Okay, maybe I did complain. But I had a legitimate point. Which was — I’m lazy. I mean, what’s so wrong with that?


I’d rather be doing this…


So we fill the car and drive home. And I tell my wife – let’s get this stuff out of the car now, so we don’t have to worry about it later. Only she says she’s too tired, we’ll move it in the morning. Promise.

And I say – I know you’re tricks, you won’t be around in the morning. And I’ll have to move it by myself. And she starts in again about my bad attitude.

Well, obviously, Friday morning came and went without her cleaning out the car.  Let this be a lesson to all you youngsters out there.

No matter what they tell you — you’re gonna be the one who does the heavy lifting.


I’m a mule — like Francis…


So here I am lifting shit out of the car and stocking it in the garage. And I’m sweating like a mule, cause it’s hot. And this shit is heavy.

And I get to the bottom of the trunk and what do I find?  A bag of kitty litter!

The kitty litter bag my wife bought — over my objections — weeks ago just in case we got stuck in the snow. Cause someone told her that kitty litter makes the perfect traction to help cars get out of snow.

As she dumped that kitty litter bag into the back of the car, I predicted that I’d be the one to find it, when the snow melted it.

I believe she said I had a bad attitude.

I haul the kitty litter bag out of the car and dump it in a corner of the garage. Which is where I’ll undoubtedly find it months from now when my wife tells me we got to clean out the garage.

Only guess who will be doing the hauling?

Fellas, once a pack mule, always a pack mule.  Might as well get used to it.

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Benny Jay: Cheap is Cheap!

April 13th, 2014

It’s the middle of the night and I can’t sleep — must have been something I ate — so I’m sitting on the downstairs sofa reading In Cheap We Trust by Lauren Weber.

It’s all about our need to be more frugal, so we don’t destroy the world by using everything up.

She makes a convincing argument, but I wish she used a different word in her title. To me, cheap and frugal are not quite the same. Frugality is a virtue — waste not, want not, and all that. But cheap is selfish.

Most cheap guys I know — and I’ve known a lot of them — aren’t cheap cause they want to save the planet. Hell, no — they’re cheap cause they don’t want to pay the bill.

Take Jamie, for example.  Cheapest dude I know. The next bill he picks up will be his first. When we go out to eat, he scours the menu looking for the cheapest thing he can buy.


Jack Benny was cheap…


“Jamie,” I’ll ask. “Why you only eating a salad?”

“Ah,” he says. “I’m not really that hungry.”

But tell him you’re treating? Fuck the salad! Next thing you know he’s ordering the steak.  It’s interesting how hungry he suddenly gets, when he realizes someone else is paying the bill.

Another notorious tightwad I know is Bill, an old college friend. He’s so cheap, he’d bogart my coffee when we’d go out breakfast, instead of ordering his own.

“Hey, man, ask the waitress for a refill…”

“Just order your own cup, you cheap motherfucker…”

“C’mon, man….”

When the check came, he’d go over it like a CPA, making sure I paid for the coffee. Cause, technically, he hadn’t ordered it.


And Tiger Woods is a notoriously cheap tipper…


I’ve told my mom that story at least a dozen times. She never tires of hearing it. She loves trashing cheapskates. Then she’ll tell my father: “You have to hear this one…”

And he’ll say: “Don’t you people have anything better to occupy your minds?”

My father’s really big on how we occupy our minds.

I think Lauren Weber would love my parents. As children of the Great Depression, they understand the need for frugality cause they remember when there was barely enough food to eat.

But cheap? It’s just the opposite. When the bill comes, my father’s quick like a cat — grabs it right out of the waiter’s hand. The man doesn’t have a cheap bone in his body.

My sister on the other hand…

The last time the family went out for lunch, she grabs the bill before my father can get at it, looks at me and says, “Let’s treat.” You know, like she’s the big sport.

So I get out my Master Card and she gets out her American Express. But the waitress says, “sorry, we don’t take American Express.”

I wind up paying the whole bill.

Come to think of it — I wouldn’t say she’s cheap. Just sorta slick.

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Randolph Street: The Montage

April 11th, 2014

Editor’s Note: Jon Randolph was last seen goin’ down to Mexico way, singing — “ain’t no hangman gonna put a rope around me.” We expect him to return next week. In the meantime, enjoy some of his greatest hits…









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Benny Jay: The Great Ronnie Brewer Debate

April 10th, 2014

I’m sitting in a bar on a Monday night talking sports with the fellas, when Ralph says…

“The Bulls signed Ronnie Brewer.”

Ronnie Brewer being a player who had recently been waived by the Houston Rockets.

“That’s correct,” says Norm.

“But they can’t play him in the playoffs,” says Ralph.

“Negative,” says Norm.

That ignites one of those great debates in which two slightly inebriated patrons in a bar have a heated back-and-forth about something they know next to nothing about.  In this case, the intricate legalities of the NBA’s waivered-player eligibility policy.

Make that three slightly inebriated patrons. Cause I jump in, too!


Welcome back, Ronnie!


Here’s the issue. There’s a very specific date in which Team A can sign Player B who was waived by Team C and still have him eligible to play in the playoffs. And then there is a date after which Player B is ineligible to play.

Is that clear? I didn’t think so.

In any regard, I can assure you that neither Ralph, Norm nor I know that date. Which doesn’t stop us from having the debate that goes a little like this…

Ralph: He can’t play.

Norm: Yes, he can.

Me: Norm’s right.

Ralph: No, he’s not.


To find something on the Internet to prove their points, Ralph grabs his smartphone and Norm grabs his. And I grab mine. Well, I would have, if I had one.


The stakes were high…



“Ralph,” I say. “Let’s use logic. Why would the Bulls bother to sign Brewer if he only gets to play in the last four games of the regular season?”

Excellent question.

To which Norm says: “Yeah!”

And Ralph says nothing. Cause what can he say? I have touchéd the motherfucker, so to speak, with my brilliant logic and deduction.

I’m so sure of my position that I double down. “Tell you what, Ralph,” says I. “Let’s bet dinner at the Pecking Order.”

Which grabs Norm’s interest.

“You mean that place on Clark Street?” Norm asks.

“Yeah, man,” I say. “I ate there the other night and the fried chicken is off the charts.”

“I saw it written up in the Sun-Times and I’ve been wanting to go,” says Norm.

“Well, now we get to go and Ralph buys,” I say.

“I didn’t make the bet,” says Ralph.

I realize he’s right. He had, instead, very stubbornly continued to insist he was right about Brewer, while very astutely refraining from taking my bet. Slick move, Ralph!

Fast forward an hour…

From my home computer I find several articles that say it clear as a bell. Ronnie Brewer is most definitely eligible for the playoffs.

Another triumph of logic and deduction for Benny Jay! Unfortunately, there’s no fried chicken to be gained.


Benny Jay: Super Squirrel

April 8th, 2014

For the last few days, I’ve been looking out my window, watching one particular squirrel romp around my backyard.

You may think this is a big waste of time. But what you don’t know is this squirrel has no tail.

That’s right — there’s a tailless squirrel living in my backyard.

I think its hard enough for any squirrel to live in Chicago, surviving the winter and all. But life must be especially tough for a tailless one.

Out of curiosity, I looked up “squirrel’s tail” on the Internet – to see just what it is that a tail actually does for a squirrel. And I discovered that a tail helps a squirrel keep its balance as it “leaps across treetops” or “darts down telephone lines.”

Plus, it helps the squirrel emit messages. For instance, a squirrel flicks its tail when it’s scared. Or fluffs it up when its feeling aggressive. And during the breeding season, it sends a message of love, as one squirrell waves its tail at another. As if to say — “hey, baby, you are one fine looking squirrel.”

So you can see — a tail definitely comes in handy, if you’re a squirrel.

Also, there are lots of different theories as to how a squirrel loses its tail. One guy on one website wrote: “Red squirrels have been known to bite off grey squirrel tails during fights.”



They were really going at it…


I guess some people are experts on everything.

By the way, I’m not a big fan of squirrels in general. But I have to make an exception for this feller.  I’ve always been attracted to the underdogs in life.

Anyway, just the other day, I was walking through the backyard, taking out the garbage, and what did I see? My tailless friend humping another squirrel!

You might say — he was getting some tail.

I got a million of them, everybody!

He was really going at it, too. I don’t know how he emitted his message of love without a bushy tail to wave.  Apparently, he’s one enterprising squirrel.

“Hey, squirrels,” I yelled. “Get a motel!”

When I told Milo about it, he said: “That fucker’s getting more nookie than I am. And he doesn’t even have a fucking tail!”

Well, it’s good to know his other appendage is working.

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Benny Jay: Stuck in Mississippi

April 6th, 2014

For the last few months, Milo’s been telling me about a new friend he’s made — let’s call him Teddy.

Teddy’s forty-something years old. Friendly, courteous. Funny. But here’s the thing – he did twenty-odd years on a Mississippi work farm.

Milo caught me off guard when he told me that. I don’t usually come across people who did hard time in Mississippi.

You’d figure a guy like that must be mean and ornery. But Milo says Teddy’s “the sweetest guy in the world.”

Teddy went in for robbing banks.  He got away with three robberies and got nailed on the fourth. His method was fairly straightforward: He walked into a bank with a pistol and walked out with the money. One haul brought him 30 grand.

He had a partner in his crimes. Milo doesn’t know his name. Says Teddy never told him. For all I know, Milo is the partner. For the record, Milo swears he’s never spent a day in Mississippi.

When Milo told me Teddy’s tale, I thought – damn, I could do a lot with $30,000. Of course, it doesn’t go as far when you have to split it with someone else.

They also convicted Teddy on kidnapping charges. Apparently, he and his associate took someone — a bank employee or customer, I can’t recall — into the parking lot with them on that last robbery.


One gate I hope I never have to cross…


In Teddy’s mind, it’s a bogus kidnapping charge cause they weren’t kidnapping the guy so much as temporarily holding him hostage until they got away. They never intended to harm anyone and no one was harmed. You might say, he did the robbery but he did not do the kidnapping.

As Bob Marley might say.

Or as Mr. Dylan might put it:  “Only thing I did wrong, stayed in Mississippi a day too long.”

That’s from Mississippi — you can find it on the Love and Theft CD.

Thanks to Milo, I think of Teddy every time I hear the song.

I can’t tell you exactly what Mississippi’s all about. It’s like a lot of Dylan’s songs — just when I think I know where he’s going, he loses me with a baffling verse.

I’ve concluded that Dylan fills a lot of his songs with gibberish. He’s either messing with us just cause — why not? Or he’s got one really great line that needs a bunch of not-so-great lines to set it up.

I can relate. A good line is a terrible thing to waste. As Milo might say.

Back to Teddy….

Apparently, he’s back in jail. Something to do with a woman. I’m not really sure. It’s all very complicated.

It’s hard to believe a sweet guy can get in so much trouble.  It’s like he’s stuck in Mississippi no matter what.

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