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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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!
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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With the Super Bowl upon us, I find myself struggling to talk about the Big Game without mansplaining.
Mansplaining is a fairly well-known concept I only recently learned, as I’m generally the last to know anything that isn’t about sports.
Basically, mansplaining is when a man explains something–generally in a patronizing tone–to a woman who likely knows more about the subject than the man who is explaining it to her.
The classic example is the professor, a man, who explained mansplaining to another professor, a woman, who happened to be the academic who coined the term in the first place.
And you wonder why male professors have such a bad rep.
As a liberated, 21st century man, I’ve dedicated myself to the goal of not mansplaining.
But that’s a hard goal to reach because most of the women in my life know nothing about the topics I want to discuss.
That brings me to the concept of womannoring–a contraction formed by joining ”woman” and “ignoring.”
Womannoring helps women remain blissfully ignorant about sports–a subject that absorbs my every waking hour–by ignoring everything about it. Not an easy thing to do since sports is everyfuckingwhere.
Another contraction I’ve invented.
Don’t worry–I’m not mansplaining when I explain womannoring as I’m the guy who invented it.
Anyway, the other night I was enjoying a delicious meal in a lovely Italian restaurant with six super smart women, including my old friend Gail, who may be the best womannorer in America. As she knows almost nothing about sports.
“For ten trivia points,” I said to Gail, “name the two teams playing in the Super Bowl.”
To which she said: “Ugh…”
Which, technically, is not a correct answer.
As a followup, I asked: “Who’s the halftime guest?”
“Coldplay,” Gail correctly answered.
“There’s someone else?” asked Gail.
“Yep. I’ll give you a hint.”
I started singing–I’m Every Woman.
Which is not much of a hint since it’s not sung by the singer who’s the halftime guest at the Super Bowl.
“I have no idea what you’re singing,” said Gail.
“Beyoncé,” I said.
“But she was the halftime guest two years ago,” said Gail.
Say this for Gail. She may not know football. But she sure knows her halftime shows.
At this point my wife said: “The teams in the Super Bowl are Denver and Carolina.”
“Correct,” I said.
“Yes!” said my wife.
“Teacher’s pet,” said Gail.
“For ten more trivia points,” I said to my wife. “Name Carolina’s quarterback.”
“Manning,” she said.
“Close–he’s Denver’s quarterback. The correct answer is Cam Newton.”
I then found a picture of Newton on my cell phone, which got passed around the table, thus generating the following comments…
“That man is hot, hot, hot…”
And so forth.
So, to review…
It’s Carolina versus Denver. Manning plays for Denver and Cam Newton’s hot.
Also, Coldplay’s the halftime guest.
But you probably already knew that.
I’m not sure when this happened, but I’ve reached the phase of life where I enjoy going to the grocery store. Trader Joe’s, in particular.
I think it may have something to do with aging. Apparently, I’ve gotten so old that going to Joe’s seems like an exciting thing to do.
Also, it may have something to do with my growing love of red wine.
They sell lots of red wine at Trader Joe’s. In fact, they often have an employee offering free samples.
You can get yourself a nice, little afternoon buzz on the free wine samples at Trader Joe’s.
Perhaps going to Trader Joe’s is for me what that bell was to Pavlov’s dog. If you recall, Pavlov–the great Russian scientist–would ring a bell just before he fed his dogs. Over time, he conditioned the dogs to associate the ringing of the bell with the serving of a food.
Soon the mere sound of the bell caused Pavlov’s dogs to salivate.
I’m not saying I salivate at the prospect of going to Trader Joe’s. Actually, I’m not sure what I was saying. I was just looking for an excuse to show off my vast knowledge of science.
By the way, Trader Joe’s can be treacherous to visit. My research shows that some of the world’s worst pedestrians are pushing carts in the aisles of Trader Joe’s.
They just sort of wander around in a drunken daze–maybe they’ve had one too many wine samples.
You never know which way they’ll abruptly turn. Or whether they’ll suddenly stop. I’ve had more than one rear ender in the aisles of Trader Joe’s.
Another bonus of going to Trader Joe’s is that my wife’s business is on the way to the store. So I have an excuse to stop in to say hi. Generally, we have the following conversation…
Me: I’m going to Trader Joe’s to get wine and coffee–what else do we need?
My wife: Lettuce.
Oh, no–the dreaded produce section! My research shows that more accidents occur in produce than any other section of Trader Joe’s.
That’s cause people are spending way too much time fondling, feeling and smelling the products.
It’s much safer in the cereal section.
One day I stopped by my wife’s business, but she’d stepped out. Leah, a co-worker, was there.
“Oh, well,” I said. “I wanted to ask what we need at Trader Joe’s.”
“Coffee and wine,” said Leah.
Really, what else is there?
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My good friend–Tony with a T–showed up at bowling on Monday, looking sad.
“What’s the matter, T?’ I asked.
“You know how LeBron got David Blatt fired as coach of the Cavs?” he said.
“Well, he didn’t stop with Blatt. LeBron fired me as a fan.”
And here he burst into tears.
A word about Tony. He was born in Cleveland. He grew up there. He still swears allegiance to that city, even though he got out as soon as he could.
“Tell me about it, T,” I said. “I’m here for you.”
“I got a call from David Griffin,” he said between sniffles.
Griffin’s the general manager of the Cavs.
“That’s what he said about coach Blatt,” I said.
“And he said he didn’t like my spirit in the locker room…”
“They let you in the locker room?”
“And then he told me I was getting replaced with one of LeBron’s cousins.”
After that I couldn’t understand what he was saying–what with all his sobbing.
“There, there, T,” I said. “It’s okay.”
“I’ve always been so loyal to the Cavs,” he said.
“I know you have…”
“I stayed with them after Jordan hit the shot against Ehlo.”
“And after they traded Ronnie Harper for Danny Ferry…”
“Even after LeBron took his game to South Beach!”
“And this is how they treat me?”
“Disgraceful,” I said.
“I gave the Cavs the best years of my life…”
“I know you did.”
“I know the words to Cleveland Rocks by heart…”
“Want to hear them?”
“Okay–`all the little chicks with their crimson lips…’”
“I’m pretty sure I said no…”
“`Cleveland rocks, Cleveland rocks.’ C’mon, Benny, you sing it, too…”
“Not in a million years…”
From across the bar I heard more sobbing. It was Eric, another bowler out of Cleveland.
“Let me guess,” I said to Eric. “LeBron fired you, too.”
“I even got ”2-1-6 forever” tattooed to my chest,” he wailed.
To demonstrate their love, Tony & Eric started rapping Machine Gun Kelly’s hip hop ode to Cleveland.
“Man I’m so Cleveland It’s a god damn shame
So east side I’m a god damn gang…”
Then they had to stop cause they were sobbing so much.
Hey, LeBron–give these guys a second chance.
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Working at home on a snowy afternoon, when my phone line crashes.
Don’t know why.
It just doesn’t work. Internet. Phone. Nothing.
So I get out my cell phone and call AT&T. Wind up talking to a nice lady named Stephanie, who tells me I should unplug the phones.
“You want me to unplug the phones?” I ask.
Just to make sure.
“Yes — all the phones,” she says. “Keep them off for about five minutes and then plug them back in.”
I crawl under the desk and look at the snake tangle of wires — red, blue and gray — hooking phone, computer, printer, etc. into the surge protector.
Not sure which is which, I just start pulling plugs out of sockets.
Stephanie, the phone operator, looked a little like Raquel Welch….
Then I go downstairs to have a delicious glass of chocolate milk. Ahhh.
Then I read the sports section. Then I call Cap on the phone to talk about Derrick Rose’s knee….
Next thing you know — 15 minutes have passed. So it’s back to the phones I go.
I plug this plug here and that plug there and….
I call Stephanie — my new best friend — and she says she’ll send over a repairman.
I killed time talking about D. Rose’s knee….
Fast forward an hour or so….
My wife comes home.
“My phone died,” I tell her.
“Let me look,” she says.
“Oh, like you can fix it.”
She goes to my room and crawls under the table and then announces….
“You didn’t plug in the phones.”
“Yes, I did,” I say.
“No, you didn’t.”
I’m starting to get a little annoyed.
“Of course, I did.”
“No, you plugged the surge protector plug into itself….”
“It’s not plugged into the wall socket — it’s plugged into itself.”
She points to the problem.
“Oh,” I say.
“It’s like electrical masturbation,” she says.
She likes that line so much, she says it again.
Then she unplugs the surge protector plug from the surge protector and plugs it into the wall. Voila! The computer and phone come back to life. And I call Stephanie to cancel the repairman.
“That’s really funny,” says my wife.
“You can’t tell anyone about this,” I tell her.
“How `bout Jenny — can I tell her?”
Jenny works with my wife.
“Especially not Jenny.”
“Oh, all right.”
“And whatever you do, don’t tell Milo. I’ll never hear the end of it.”