My World, My Rules…

Putting aside last weekend’s weird snowstorm, the warmer weather is coming to our part of the country.  So with the higher temperatures and longer sunny days come changes in how we dress.  However, there are issues I have regarding the way men and women change their apparel come the spring and summer.  To put it bluntly, I have my own set rules. Without rules there is chaos so here are my directives for the warm months ahead.

As Barney Fife wisely said, “Rule number 1, obey all rules!”

Don’t Paint It Black-

My first rule is actually a year round guideline for women.  Ladies, it is time to ditch the black polish for your fingernail and toenails for good. That color used to be a thing exclusively for those into the Goth look. However now everywhere I go and even on TV I see the fairer sex proudly sporting the black colored nails.  In my world the only people allowed to sport black nail polish are Lily Munster, Morticia Addams, Elvira Mistress of the Dark, Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson. For everyone else I can accept any other color on the palette spectrum, just not black.  Those black nails have a lazy and dirty look to them.  It’s just not right.   And if anyone woman needs more convincing to lose the black paint, do you know who else has black nails?  Dogs, bears and squirrels.  Nuff said.

Ladies, lose the black nail polish for good. It’s unbecoming.

Put some socks on it-

Here’s a warm weather rule for the men.  Wearing loafers or dress shoes without socks is the absolute height of douche-baggery! (Save for so called ‘Man-buns)  All you’re doing is telling the world, “I have 160 dollars to blow on shoes that I can mess up with my hot smelly bare feet.”  Keep in mind women are exempt from this directive because they always walk around sockless in their many pairs of shoes; so they’re grandfathered or grandmothered in.

Men in dress shoes with no socks, the height of douche baggery.

Put a Cap on it

Another message for my fellow men; The day you turn 25 is also the day you have to stop wearing your baseball cap backwards.  You’re no longer some teen little leaguer, paperboy or college fraternity brother. You’re a real adult so keep your baseball cap perched on your coconut the proper way, with the bill of the cap in the front.  Sometimes I see guys with the backward caps and their sunglasses perched on top of their head as they squint into the sun!  Wake up men and wear your cap the correct way. Women are exempt from this cap rule because they look cute no matter how they wear their hats.

Over the age of 25? Then wear your baseball cap with the bill in the front!

Stylish but Clueless Wannabes– 

Often online or in magazines I see photos of famous men and women wearing vintage rock T-shirts of bands and singers who were at their peak of popularity years before these stars were born. Even locally I’ll see some twenty something man or woman walking around in a 1970’s era Aerosmith or Eagles T-shirt. It makes me wonder, what the hell do they know about bands who were happening decades before they were born?  I’m betting they’re wearing that Doors or Led Zeppelin T-shirt because they know it’s the hip and trendy thing to so.  My rule is if you want to buy a vintage rock t-shirt, you must first be able to name at least 5 songs from that group or artist’s music catalog.  And if someone on the street asks you to name those songs and you can’t? Then that shirt gets pulled from your torso and is given to someone more deserving of such vintage wear.

Wanna wear vintage rock T-shirts? You better know your music!

In the news-

With the warmer weather here I’m seeing female TV news anchors (local and national) breaking out their sleeveless tops and dresses. Call me an ‘Old School’ fool but the summery tops these news readers wear just don’t look professional.  The men on camera are always wearing suits and ties or at least shirts and ties.  However, the ladies are allowed to deliver the latest headlines dressed like they’re at the beach or sipping cocktails at a trendy rooftop bar in Manhattan. To be clear, I’m not saying these women should be covered up in ugly polyester blazers with a network logo patch sewn on it. Still if I were a TV news boss I would ban the spaghetti strap and sleeveless tops and dresses for on camera news delivery. We get it girls, you’ve been toning up your guns and shoulders with Sven, your personal trainer at L.A. fitness. Nevertheless, save showing off those toned limbs for your weekend pool parties and summer barbecues.  And as much as I enjoy her work on CNN, Brooke Baldwin, this means you too!

Brooke Baldwin, you’re delivering the day’s headlines, not sunning yourself at the beach. Dress accordingly please.

Cover Up Your Buttercup-

Because they dress appropriately this final rule doesn’t apply to the fine women who frequent my local pool (East End) in Elmhurst. However it does apply to ladies at city beaches and ESPECIALLY celebrities.  Please lose the barely there butt floss bikini bottoms. I’m no prude yet it’s still more enticing to conceal than reveal.  Ninety-nine percent of the world does not want to see ninety-nine percent of your ass.  First off, the ‘Sun’s out buns out’ thongs look super uncomfortable. Second, once you’ve seen one set of cheeks you’re pretty much seen em all.  And third, sporting those thongs is a sign of desperation.  You’re trying too hard, so for the love of my rules, please do a better job of covering up the fleshy guard rails to your turd cutters.    

Here’s actor Cuba Gooding Jr. hanging with a butt-floss bearing woman.

If everyone understood and followed these simple rules, we could all enjoy the warm weather months without me gritting my teeth, shaking my head and mumbling complaints under my breath.  Ithankyouforyourtime.

NEXT WEEK- CELEBRATING SECRETARIES.

Making a Scene at the Movies…

Anyone who knows me knows that one of my passions has always been movies. Old ones, new ones, anything on a screen I’m up for checking out.  Growing up, my family instilled this love into me and going to the cinema to see first runs of everything from James Bond flicks to “The Godfather”, “Deliverance” and “The Exorcist” is a memory I’ll always hold dear.  I still love going to the movies and that will never change. So let’s get the cameras rolling along with my current thoughts on the world of film.

Seeing movies is still one of my favorite things to do in my spare time.

SPOILER ALERTS– Plain and simple, movie previews or trailers as they’re now called show too much of a yet to be released feature.  Too often the bulk of the best jokes, sight gags and plot twists of a coming movie are shown in the preview.  Then when we go see the film in its entirety there’s little new or special to see and enjoy. Movies are literally being spoiled with key parts being over exposed. It wasn’t always done this way. The ruining of movies by showing too much in a trailer has been growing over the years.  I was once quoted in Entertainment Weekly’s letters to the editor stating if “The Empire Strikes Back” came out today the preview would spoil the fact that Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s father.  I know movie companies have to put asses in the theater seats but they’re dumbing down the film experience by spilling out too much of a new flick before we ever see it.  It’s like being shown most of the presents you’ll be getting for Christmas BEFORE Christmas day.  I do like seeing movie previews to get a grasp of things I may want to eventually check out but we’re all being shown too much.    

Too many new movies are being spoiled by over-exposing gags, jokes and plot twists. Movie companies are taking all the fun out of seeing their products.

ANOTHER VOYAGE IS NEEDED– Many old or not even that old of movies get re-made for a new generation who never experienced the original. Off the top of my head “Robocop”, “Flatliners” and “Total Recall” were recently re-done for people who were not alive in the early 90’s.  More often than not the newer versions pale in comparison to their starter counterparts and don’t do well at the box office.

However my longtime friend Jim Turano came up with a movie from way, way back that SHOULD be re-done.  Jim said he’d like to see a new production of 1966’s sci-fi adventure “Fantastic Voyage.”  Remember that movie? A submarine crew is shrunk to microscopic size to travel in a vessel through the body of a scientist to repair brain damage he suffered in an assassination attempt.  “Fantastic Voyage” has not aged well but today’s CGI effects could make that same trip through the human body a really cool experience.  We’ve seen numerous incarnations of King Kong, Godzilla and Spiderman, so why not a journey to the center of the mind with a shrunk down crew of people?

The 60’s Sci-Fi movie “Fantastic Voyage” should be re-made. With all the CGI special effects this could be a Fantastic Visual.

MOVIES & MUSIC – For those who never saw her in “American Horror Story,” last year’s remake of “A Star is Born” proved  Lady Gaga can act. She delivered the goods as newly minted singing star Ally but I have another casting idea for her. I’d like to see Lady Gaga star in a biopic of Wendy O. Williams, the former lead singer of the Plasmatics, a 1980’s punk rock band.  Like Gaga herself, Wendy Williams was an outrageous visual and musical presence. Williams used to appear onstage with just electrical tape covering her nipples and was a wild yet tragic character both on and off the stage.  Lady Gaga as Wendy O. Williams could be a major home run at the movies.    

I could see Lady Gaga paying the lead in a movie about Plasmatics lead singer Wendy O. Williams. Gaga has worn outfits at least this crazy.

Fans like me who love The Who keep wondering when the long talked about story of drummer Keith Moon will make it to the big screen.  Lead singer Roger Daltrey is trying to make it happen and late last year he was still working on finding the right actor to portray his late band mate.  With the success of “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Elton John’s story in “Rocket Man’ coming out this May, there’s plenty of market for stories about iconic musicians.

On the country music scene there’s often been talk of a biopic covering the short but vital life of Keith Whitley who died in 1989.  I’d like to see the story made and in turn a whole new generation would be exposed to Whitley’s great voice and music.

What about a film on the life of 1960’s singer Bobby Fuller?  Most of us know Fuller’s hit “I Fought the Law” but his death remains shrouded in the the kind of mystery that could rival that of the fictional Eddie Wilson from the movie “Eddie and the Cruisers.”

Rocker Bobby Fuller had a short life and a weird death befitting a Hollywood movie.

 MUSICAL THEATER-In recent times Broadway has seen massive hits covering the times of famed singers and groups.  From “Dreamgirls” to “Jersey Boys” to the production of Carole King’s career in “Beautiful” these shows are big money makers. Now there’s a production on The Temptations called “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.” 

These theater successes makes me think there should be a Broadway tilt done covering the long life and work of Neil Diamond. The so called ‘Jewish Elvis’ has a great story to tell from his songwriting days in Tin Pan Alley to his decades long hit making and worldwide concert performing career.  You could name Neil’s show after one of his albums and songs “Beautiful Noise” or even after his biographical song “Brooklyn Roads.”

Why not a Broadway production featuring the life story and music of Neil Diamond?

I recently caught up to the Spike Lee movie “BlacKkKlansman” which was very well done.  The true story of a black cop going undercover in the early 1970’s to expose the unlawful actions of the KKK is a wild tale.   Away from the core story, one of my favorite scenes was this one which really captured the look, sound and vibe of that time in American culture.

This dance scene from “Blackklansman” really captured the look and feel of the early 70’s.

CLOSING SCENE- Film-goers are still buzzing about “Us”, the latest creepy movie from Jordan Peele. He’s the guy who brought us “Get Out” two years ago and also now has a new incarnation of “The Twilight Zone” on TV.  I liked “Get Out” a little more than this new offering but the young masked boy in “Us” did make my skin crawl anytime he scampered around. If you ever want to see another youngster creep you out on the screen, check out the underrated 2013 film “Stoker.”  Nicole Kidman plays a rueful mother in this tense tale but it is her daughter India played by Mia Wasikowska who will blow your mind and give you the creeps.  

The little boy in “Us” is creepy but another scary youngster was Mia Wasikowski in 2013’s “Stoker.”

NEXT WEEK’S BLOG- ‘MY WORLD, MY RULES.”

How I Spent My ‘Spring Break’…

Being too young for a senior citizen boat cruise and too old for Cabo or South Padre Island, I spent my Spring Break in south central Elmhurst. Refusing to let the results of the Mueller report on Trump or the insanity of the Jussie Smollett story distract me, I occupied the time off doing the following:

Spent one day working on lessons and quizzes for the next two books my reading class will be covering. The kids will be reading Steven King’s novella “The Body” then Lois Lowery’s classic “The Giver.”  When possible, I try to have them read books that were made into movies that I can show them afterwards.

I hung out with lifelong pals to watch NCAA basketball games at Downers Grove’s “Brick House.”  (For sports watching, good beer selections and decent food, this is the place to be)

Watched Cubs and Sox regular season baseball games. (I’m a Sox fan but just want to see good baseball played)

For the first time in over a month I enjoyed a great take-out omelet, pancakes and bacon breakfast from Mr. G’s.

You know the spring is here and summer’s coming when Elmhurst’s Hamburger Heaven opens for business. I got in a lunch there.

The eats at Hamburger Heaven were as good as ever!

TYou Tube is where I usually discover songs I never heard before and during my break I picked up on Matchbox 20’s “She’s So Mean”. (I’m only 7 years late on that one)

Click on here to check out Matchbox 20’s “She’s So Mean.”

Speaking of Matchbox 20, lead singer Rob Thomas’ latest single “One Less Day” (Dying Young) is a damn good one too.

After seeing a CBS Sunday Morning feature on Brandi Carlile I got into more of her music than I knew before. By now many folks know “The Joke” but Brandi has lots of other good music.

I rehearsed my part for this month’s talent show at our school. SPOILER ALERT: My plan is to sing the first verse of “Seven Bridges Road” then roll into the Monkees’ “I’m A Believer.”

I made sure to drop by the Elmhurst Park district to buy my swim pass for the 2019 summer season.  (I’ve retired the banana hammocks but still need to get into better swimsuit shape)

Looking forward to the 2019 swim season at East End Pool. It won’t be long before I’m this tan again.

(While off, I saw two movies- Jordan Peele’s new creepy offering “Us” which I graded out as a ‘B’. Peele’s “Get Out” was a bit better.  Next I saw the chick flick “Gloria Bell” starring Julianne Moore which I felt only deserved a “C.”  The script and characters were weak.

I booked a landscaper at a good price to do some much needed spring cleaning of my yard and trimming the front bushes.

The Powerball lottery lightened my wallet 20 bucks and the fact that I’m back at work tells you I did not win. 

Lastly, I started organizing miscellaneous comments, observations and jokes I’ve written over the past year.  Once tightened up, I’d like to try them out at some comedy club open mike night.  However, to do that I’m going need to grow some nerves of steel.  Good luck on that one, right?

So I kept busy and it was a good break because like anyone else who is on a vacation knows, there was no clock to answer to.  No schedule to be tied to and that in and of itself was the best part of the 9 days. 

I’m back in the classroom, counting the days before s our summer break.

NEXT WEEK’S BLOG– “Making a scene at the movies…”

Facebook Music Posts: A Greatest Hits Collection of Sorts

Facebook is where I share a few thoughts and catch up on what others are thinking and doing.

I consider my Facebook page to be a little stage. It’s a soapbox where I can spout off a pithy little comment or observation and see what Facebook ‘friends’ have to say about my posts.

Some of what I create and post up is tied to twentieth century music in the rock, pop and country genres. Often, I’ll take a line from an old song and put it in the context of today’s world. So here are a few of my favorites from the past two years.    

Don’t accept a friend request from someone named ‘Buttercup’, she’ll build you up just to let you down.

I wish a vow taking nun would change her name to Sister Disco.

Love grows where my Rosemary goes but so do STDs.

In modern times Foreigner’s “Jukebox Hero” would be re-titled “I-Pod   Icon.” 

Harry Chapin’s song “Taxi” should be re-titled “Uber.”

Kids now get inoculated to prevent the rockin’ pneumonia & the boogie woogie flu. Jenny McCarthy protests this vaccine.    

The road to Shambala should lead to a Waffle House.

I hope the road to Shambala brings me here.

“One of these crazy old nights, we’re gonna find out pretty mama, what turns on your lights.” (I bet it’s The Clapper)

 In “Take a Letter Maria”, R.B. Greaves asking his secretary out for a dinner date would now be viewed as sexual harassment.

“I can see for miles and miles”, thanks to Lasik Surgery.

“…way past one and feeling alright, cuz with Little Willy around they can last all night.”  (Thank you Viagra)

 Nickelback’s “Rock Star” asks for a bathroom with a king sized tub big enough for 10 plus me.  (That’s gonna be a bitch to clean)

Are Cheap Trick’s ‘Dream Police’ equipped with body cameras?

Do the ‘Dream Police’ wear body cameras?

“She calls me up and says baby it’s a lonely ole night.” (Sounds like somebody needs to get on Tinder)

Michael Penn sang, “What if I were Romeo in black jeans?”  (Make sure those pants are the ‘relaxed fit’ style)

Pearl Jam- Were charges filed when Jeremy bit the recess lady’s breast?  (Did he at least get an ‘in school suspension’?)

The new drug Huey Lewis wants, does it cause oily discharge?

Be careful, Huey Lewis’ “New Drug” might have some bad effects.

NEXT WEEK’S BLOG- Highlights from my Spring Break.

Drinking Days Gone By…

St. Patrick’s Day is over.  Amen. I’m sure plenty of revelers started drinking on Friday and kept partying on through Sunday night.  Erin go Bragh, and all that stuff.  Yeah, I’m not a fan of the Irish boozing festival.  Too many goofs see St. Patrick’s Day as a built in excuse to get piss drunk. Jerry Seinfeld used to say how he didn’t like being around drunks because they’re always telling you how much they love you or hate you and he didn’t want to hear either of those things. Me neither.

Not that I’m trying to ruin anyone’s good time, but my heavy or even moderately strong drinking days have been in the rearview mirror for a long time.  I can’t recall a time since 2000 when I was even giddily buzzed, let alone bombed out drunk.  It’s not that I’m some high and mighty Puritan, I just don’t see the value in ruining a whole day or longer nursing a hangover after a night of too many cocktails.

Did everyone get enough to drink over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend?

When I get together with friends for fellowship, I keep it to a 2 drink total, 3 if it’s a longer hang.   In between each alcohol serving I’ll have a diet Coke or a glass of ice water with a twist of lime.  As far as drinks of choice, I go with bottled beer, Rolling Rock or a Shiner Bock do just fine by me.

Still, the carousing others do on St. Patrick’s Day reminds me of the days when I used to howl at the moon with the drinking. The first boozing I did was at age 14.  My sister Mary Ann was four years older than I and she introduced me and my friends to ‘Slow Screws’ which was Sloe gin mixed with orange juice.  That cocktail had a sweet and easy taste which made them fun to get an occasional buzz on. 

When I was in high school, the legal drinking age for beer and wine in Illinois was nineteen and to drink hard liquor you had to be twenty one.  My friends and I kicked into weekend beer hoisting at the start of junior year in high school.  Some of us, me included, were shaving fairly regularly so it was easy to look nineteen and buy suds at liquor stores in neighboring towns. We did that because the alcohol sellers in my hometown of Elmhurst always demanded to see an I.D. We rarely got into the hard booze.  A few cans of Old Style or Olympia beer were the norms for us.

Old Style beer was a constant in my high school drinking days.

 My parents had a liberal attitude towards alcohol. They told me to call them if I was ever too liquored up to drive, get a ride home from someone sober or just stay over where I was until the morning. By age seventeen they allowed me and my friends to drink at our house. My mom would fill us up with snacks and keep an eye out to make sure nobody went too nuts with the malt pops. The logic from my folks was, “He should learn how to handle drinking and if it happens under our roof, so much the better.”  And yes, there were a couple of times when I had to bunk at a friend’s house due to being over-served. I also hosted buzzed pals at my house for the same reason.  One piss drunk buddy filled up half a laundry sink with beer and pizza puke then passed out on my cold basement floor. His head was resting against our cat’s litter box.  Hey, we were young and stupid. O.K.?

Actually most of us York High School kids were fairly careful with the drinking after some sophomore classmates got into a horrible night time drunk driving crash.  Two blocks from my house some teens sped out of control while turning a corner and slammed a car head on into a tree. One of the crash victims almost lost his life and was laid up in the hospital for quite some time.  That was a stark wake up call to have fun but don’t be reckless.

Senior year, during our Christmas break, we had a huge beer bash in my basement and one of my teachers and his wife came by to say hey.  One guest was the daughter of the assistant director of our school district.  In our underage drinking times, things were much looser than today. If you got caught with alcohol, Elmhurst police officers usually made you pour out all your beers and if you weren’t drunk they’d send you on your way.  No arrests or police reports, no tickets, no court dates or alcohol counseling. One night my friend Todd Beja and I were directed to dump out a 12 pack of Old Style beer under the watchful eye of an Elmhurst cop who caught us with the forbidden drinks.

Elmhurst Police officers didn’t nail us bad for underage drinkers, but we never shared ‘Happy hours’ with them either.

Some weekends, I had baseball teammates over to our house for poker and beers. One of those card games was the night before Easter my senior year. During that get together my cat Squeaks delivered a freshly killed rabbit to our back porch.  The next morning I awoke to find no basket of candy waiting for me. My first basketless Easter!  My parents thought I outgrew the whole treats thing but I hadn’t.  So I asked my mom why I didn’t get a basket full of candy.  She calmly answered, “Sorry Mick, Squeaks ate the Easter Bunny.”     Very funny mom. Maybe she had a few drinks too and forgot my basket.

College drinking for me got a bit crazy.  Two summers in a row I hosted 4th of July parties that saw us drain 3 kegs of beer each year.  The first time I ever attended an Everclear punch party saw me literally crawling out of an elevator and to my dorm room to sleep off the effects of that drunk.  My introduction to doing whiskey shots at a party was also the first time I threw up on my shoes. Another time I wasted myself at a neighbor’s party, came home and spit up into a kitchen sink basket full of clean dishes. 

After college when I started working in Chicago morning radio, I could only drink on Friday and Saturday nights. By age 25 I started curbing my heavy alcohol intake because I didn’t like sleeping away my weekends thanks to too many pitchers of brew or mixed drinks. 

So yeah, now I’m a light drinker at best.  I do hope everyone had a nice St. Patrick’s Day weekend but am also glad I wasn’t around for any of the alcohol fueled ‘fun.’ 

I think it’s best to close off this blog with a drinking related song.   Bottom’s up!

Remembering My Dad Ken Kahler on His Birthday

March 11th 2019 would have been my father’s 84th birthday.  He’s been gone since August of 1993 and today I offer some fond remembrances of an aces guy.

My father Kenneth Robert Kahler. I believe he was about 50 years old in this photo.

Growing up I would often ask my dad about how things were when he was my age,.I’d say, “Pop,, back in your day, what did…” and he’d stop me right there and say, “Back in MY day?  It’s STILL my day!”  We always had a good laugh on that.

My dad’s sense of humor was sly and dry and something he didn’t often share with those outside of the family.  One thing he did shared was his love for all animals.  Dad could not stand people who hunted wild critters just for sport.  He adored the dogs we had and was truly broken up when our first pooch ‘Coach’ had to be put to sleep due to age related health problems.

He was also a cat fancier and we had two kitties (Prissy & Squeaks) while he was alive.  Dad would often say, “When someone tells me they don’t like cats, right away I don’t like them.”

A Kahler family photo from 1967.

Movies were something we shared a long and common bond on. He took me to see many films in their first run;  “The Godfather”, “Bonnie & Clyde”, “Rocky”, “The Great Santini”, and “Deliverance”  which dad said was one of the best & worst films he ever saw.  He also introduced me to classics like “The Hustler,” “Citizen Kane” and opened my eyes to how evil Andy Griffith could be in “A Face in the Crowd.”  Late Saturday nights were reserved for watching old time monster movies on Channel 9’s “Creature Features” show.  We also saw many great and not so great monster and horror films in theaters.

I’ll NEVER forget how hard pop laughed when we watched “Caddyshack” and the infamous Baby Ruth in the pool scene happened.  The whole segment had my dad loving the potty humor and when Bill Murray took a bite out of the ‘dookie’ he exploded with louder laughs and howls!  Pop went nuts for that!

I’ll never forget my dad’s hysterical laughing at this infamous scene from “Caddyshack.”

My dad was not shy about sharing any of his feelings. I remember back in 1990 when my car got rear ended and totaled in a bad crash.  My mother was in tears, beside herself that I had to deal with a trip to the E.R. (everything checked out fine) and the hassle of having to find a new car through no fault of my own. When mom shared this bad news with my dad, she told me he cried even harder.   Damn he was a good guy!

On the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend 1993, my father was diagnosed with metastatic cancer. This was discovered after he suffered a seizure in a store. The oat cell carcinoma started in his lungs and went to his brain and adrenal glands.  Up until March of 1993 my dad was a lifelong smoker and he knew that hard to quit cigarette habit is what did him in.  Still dad took on his short but fatal illness with bravery. His faith that heaven awaited him never wavered.

This next segment comes from my pending auto-biography titled “Raised on the Radio.”  A book I hope to self-publish later this year.

My pop said he wanted to accomplish more in his life but I assured him he did way better than he gave himself credit for. Dad was a dedicated and loving son who took care of his elderly mother after his father died.  He served in the U.S. Navy, met and married my mom and adopted her daughter Maryanne and fathered me.  Dad had a career he loved and supported his family with, settling us in a fantastic neighborhood in a good town.  The beauty shop he owned did well in spite of having two other salons on the same street, just a half a block from his place. 

After selling his business, my dad started a new career as a hair-styling teacher at the DAVEA vocational school which is now known as TCD. (Technology Center of DuPage) His students loved “Mr. Ken.”  He also became the loving grandfather to my sister Mary and her husband Jack’s children Doreen and Michael.  Back in the mid-eighties he surprised me by taking over my college loan re-payment schedule.  Dad didn’t want to see me saddled with any debt and had the means to knock out my owed balance quickly.  This was the kind of man my father was.  He accomplished plenty.   

After dad’s grim diagnosis of no more than six months to live, we quickly planned his memorial service before he even came home from the hospital.  Hospice care would soon come in and treat him wonderfully.   I was to write and deliver dad’s eulogy at the service.  My dad had about two good months with us at home before leaving us.

I finished writing dad’s eulogy two days before he slipped into a coma. Mary read it to him because I was a puddle of sobs and tears. Afterwards he and I had our last heart to heart talk. I’ll always be grateful that we got to share those vital moments together.

In the early morning hours of Sunday August 15th, surrounded by his loving family, Kenneth Robert Kahler passed away peacefully at the way too young age of 58.  Smoking ended a life that should’ve gone on for another thirty years. My dad’s own mother would live to the age of ninety-five.  Mary Ann helped with the memorial service as she handled the scripture readings and shared some of her own fond memories of the only man she knew as dad. 

I wrapped up my eulogy with a quote from the liner notes on John Mellencamp’s “Scarecrow Album”; “There is nothing more sad or glorious than generations changing hands.” Those eleven words were a great comfort to me.  Then we played the Paul Overstreet song “Seeing My Father in Me” for the packed room of mourners.  The man who raised me to think so well of others, who taught me patience, how to appreciate movies and passed on his dry wit to me was now gone.  There has not been a day since when I haven’t thought of my dad and missed him very much. 

My mother and father enjoying the summer sun and their son. (Me!)


The Paul Overstreet song we played at my father’s memorial service was timely. But today I’m thinking about this wonderful dad song from Conway Twitty.

T

Reality TV Gets a bit TOO Real…

I’m all on board with watching this crazy TV show.

As crazy as it sounds, I’m a fan of the TLC reality series “Dr. Pimple Popper” starring Dr. Sandra Lee.  There’s something fascinating about seeing pimples, lipomas, cysts and other growths squeezed and surgically removed from her patients.  The human body is a wondrous miracle that happens to also be capable of producing really grotesque material that makes for wild TV.  Full disclosure: In the past, I had a 4 inch lipoma removed from my abdomen and a benign marble sized cyst taken off the side of my head, but not from Dr. Lee.

Many of the pimple popper patients featured have let their growths expand to amazing sizes.  One episode showed a man with a cyst on his arm that was the size of a 16 inch softball.  Another guy had a benign but bulging golf ball-like tumor on the middle of his forehead.  Cyclops had nothing on this ‘third eye.’  There’s also the poor woman who had a horn shaped cyst sprouting out of the top her of head.  It is cringe worthy seeing custard like goo oozing out of these growths. I might never eat another cream filled doughnut again. You can even sometimes hear the squishing sounds of certain cysts getting squeezed out of their skin.   

One poor woman had a horn-like growth sprouting from her scalp. Or was it a Frito’s corn chip?

The one thing I don’t understand is WHY these patients let their bulging lumps get so big that their body parts become a freak show. Maybe they didn’t have the money or insurance to take care of these issues.  However, the growth growers do receive what appears to be excellent care from Dr. Lee. Many of these epidermal abnormalities look like they were borne from another world.  I wouldn’t be surprised to someday see Dr. Pimple Popper yank the creature from “Alien” out of someone’s body.  

I await Dr. Lee pulling the creature from ‘Alien’ out of someone’s skin.

It can be a challenge to watch some of the scenes inside Dr. Lee’s exam room because they are not for the squeamish. Still, I take on that challenge each week and make it through without getting sick.  Some people like to climb dangerous mountains, some ride scary roller coasters and hope to not throw up, I watch Dr. Pimple Popper and hope to keep my non-vomiting streak going.  (If you’re keeping score, I haven’t thrown up since early February of 1991. )

Have a large lipoma? No worries, Dr. Pimple Popper will numb the skin and pull this excess growth out quicker than you know.

However, I think I’ve met my limit with a new program now airing on A&E.  It features an African American chiropodist who specializes in excising warts, ingrown toenails, fungus and other abnormalities from patient’s feet.  Feet! Ugh!  I cannot let myself even peek in on this program. 

Anyone who knows me is aware that I have an aversion to bare feet, especially toes. No matter how well clipped, manicured and painted they might be, toes are the ugliest part of the human anatomy.  Those goofs who claim to have ‘foot fetishes’ are in my opinion the most twisted weirdos on the face of the earth. Lord knows those ‘foot freaks will be tuned in to “The Toe Bro” as he clips, lances, burns off and surgically heals the ailments of men and women who want to get back to a normal life.

My barefoot and toe phobia means I won’t be able to watch “The Toe Bro”. Ugh.

With ‘The Toe Bro’ (pardon the pun) following in the footsteps of Dr. Pimple Popper, I see the realm of reality medical shows may have no limits.  So let’s examine a couple ideas from my sick mind for future doctor programs. 

You could take a male physician with a stoner persona who does breast enlargements and call his show “The Boob Dude.”   Or a female doctor who specializes in treating man’s erectile dysfunctions, call her “The Dick Chick” or “The Cock Doc.”   My personal favorite idea? How about showing a female proctologist doing her job?  Call her “The Ass Lass.”

I’m just spit-balling here.  There’s probably a load more of specialists doctor shows just waiting to be produced.   Until then, I’ll stick with “Dr. Pimple Popper” and make fast tracks away from “The Toe Bro.” 

You may now proceed to the bathroom and throw up.

Out with it!

A Lesser Known Gem of a Movie

A couple weeks ago I took up one of those Facebook challenges. Each day (for 10 days) the ‘challenged’ was to show a picture from a movie that had an impact on me personally but leave no reason why or any other explanation. These did not have to be the “Greatest” movies of all time or anything like that, which was fine with me.  I was also supposed to nominate a new Facebook friend each day to take on the same challenge.  That part I refused to do because I don’t like throwing others into those kinds of frays. Silly me, I don’t want to be like the parent who tries to peddle their daughter’s Girl Scout Cookies to co-workers.  No thanks on that.

So as the first 9 days rolled on, my film list included “Network”, “Ordinary People”, “Tender Mercies”, “The Godfather,”  “Good Will Hunting”,  “Citizen Kane”, “Hannah & Her Sisters,” “Brokeback Mountain” & “Waking Ned Devine.”  For different reasons, each of these movies affected me personally and that’s why I proudly posted them. 

But it was my last pick, Demetri Martin’s “Dean” that I wanted to write about or give a further “explanation.” Martin wrote, directed and starred in this movie. Late last year I mentioned this film as a new favorite of mine. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t some mega-selling movie that gobbled up awards or nominations when it was released a couple of years ago.  What matters is what I got out of it personally, how I was impacted by this small movie.

A ‘Comedy About Tragedy’ pretty much sums up this movie

Dean is a twenty something cartoonist trying to get over the recent death of his mother.  Meanwhile Dean’s father (Kevin Kline) is coping with his wife’s passing by selling the family home in Brooklyn and relocating to New York City.  Dean travels to L.A. for a job interview and to meet up with friends there. He then falls for a young woman who introduces her name by saying “It starts with an “N” and ends with ‘icky’.”  Dean and Nicky (played by Gillian Jacobs) have an awkward start to their relationship but they casually bond and click.  Heck, I fell for Nicky’s quirkiness and saw how Dean could do the same.

Dean himself has a dry wit who says funny things to his friends that he just sees as simple truthful observations. I saw his humor and persona aligned with my own.  (We often gravitate towards those who are like us and that would be the case here.)           

There’s more to the story including Dean’s father’s tentative courting of his real estate agent played by Mary Steenburgen. Dean and his dad continue to navigate through their grief, albeit in different ways.  Without spoiling things, the words that end the film are touching without being sappy and wise without being pompous. It’s a perfect close to a story about love, loss and hope.

Nicky and Dean start off in an awkward way but things between them get better.

Dean’s personal revelation culled from his mother’s passing was something I’ve been looking to find for many years.  In fact I was searching so long I actually gave up on locating it.  Here in my middle years not only have I lost most of my family members, I’ve also experienced the deaths of six non-relatives, most at very young ages, who meant as much to me as family.

In Lawrence Kasdan’s 1992 film “Grand Canyon,” Steve Martin’s movie producer character had a great line (told to Kevin Kline, ironically) when he said, “All of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.”  I’m not sure that’s true but in the case of “Dean” I found an answer to the riddle of missing special people in my life.  The impact of that answer makes this movie more than worthy of being on my ‘personally significant’ list.

Check out the trailer for “Dean.”

If you get the chance, catch “Dean” on DVD from your library or on a streaming service, cable, whatever.  I’m not saying you’ll get out of it what I did but you’ll like the movie nonetheless…

The Best Bar Band I Ever Saw

In June of 1979 I graduated from York High School. While most of my friends left Elmhurst to attend downstate or out of state colleges, I stayed home and went to the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn.  When my pals came back for their first Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks I was hearing stories about this great band they saw in their college town bars; a quartet called Kool Ray and the Polaroidz.  A name like that makes you think they were a punk or new wave band but these guys played pop and rock hits from the 50’s, 1960’s and early 70’s.  Kool Ray covered Chuck Berry, Elvis, the many bands from the British Invasion era, The Doors, Motown and other familiar oldies.

Students loved to dance to this band whose members weren’t much older than their many fans. They rocked bars, clubs, outdoor festivals and frat and sorority houses.  Kool Ray was becoming well known throughout Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and Wisconsin.  I was hoping they’d travel to the Chicago area so I too could see them but they were doing just fine touring Illinois college towns like Charleston, Champaign-Urbana, Bloomington Normal and other locales.   

Fast forward to January of 1981 when I transferred from College of Du Page to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale to study communications.   After the first week of classes, I saw that Kool Ray and the Polaroidz was playing that Friday and Saturday night at T.J. McFly’s, a popular bar on Carbondale’s main strip.  Friends from my dorm and I went out that first night to see the band and it was a wild and fun time!  Not only did this group play many of my favorite songs of all time, they played them so damn well.

Kool Ray blasted through The Who’s “Can’t Explain”,the Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride”, the Stones’ “Jumping Jack Flash” and Marvin Gaye’s “Heard it Through the Grapevine” to name a few. I still remember them doing the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” and in the middle of the song, during an extended bass line jam, they infused the Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood” by singing, “I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me.”   These four musicians had it going on.

 During that semester at S.I.U. Kool Ray and the Polaroidz returned to T.J. Mc Fly’s for two night stands (Fridays & Saturdays) about once a month.  I caught them several more times and even got educated on songs I wasn’t familiar with.  They did Marvin Gaye’s soul-pop romp “I’ll Be Doggone” which I never knew before. The same went for Robert Palmer’s “You’re Gonna Get What’s Coming” which to this day is in the top ten of my favorite rock songs. Their cover of Elvis’ “Little Sister” was another money in the bank play.  Kool Ray released an album of cover songs which included an aces run through Roy Orbison’s “Oh Pretty Woman” among other songs.

As I mentioned, this band wasn’t just a group of hacks, they were very capable musicians, young and full of true rock roots credibility.  In 1981, the disco era was on its last legs and while punk or new wave music was making inroads, college students like me appreciated seeing and hearing the best music of the 50’s thru 70’s played back to them live.  Dance floors were always packed and Kool Ray’s players were stars in a small but intense galaxy.

I only lasted at S.I.U. that one semester as too much partying and not enough studying knocked me back home to Elmhurst where I found my academic niche at Elmhurst College .  In time, I was able to score a vinyl single of original material from Kool Ray, it was a pop song called “Day In and Day Out.” Another original was the Beatlesesque cut titled “I Heard You Fell”, which sounded at least as good as the stuff I heard on top 40 radio.  I often played these songs on my college radio shows at Elmhurst College’s WRSE FM. One other Kool Ray original that I never found on vinyl but to this day I could sing the chorus of was “Diane.” “Diane, you blow me away, you’ll never change, you’ll never stay, Diane you’re the one for me!”

One of Kool Ray’s original songs was a pop splash titled “Day In And Day Out”

As time went on, the band made their way to play a club in the south suburbs of Chicago called “Ryan’s” that was once a bowling alley. I saw them there and other places.  In the summer of 1983, I made it a point to catch them play a bar on the north side of Chicago and met the group personally for the first time.  Writing a weekly music column at the time for my hometown newspaper, I wanted to feature Kool Ray and the Polaroidz.  Between sets I asked their road crew if I could have twenty minutes with my favorite unknown rockers and they were more than accommodating.  Until that point I never even knew the names of any of the band members.  There had been a couple of changes in personnel but the mainstays were guitarist Doug Johnson and bass player Dee Pearson. They did most of the singing and were the engines that drove Kool Ray and the Polaroidz.

Doug and Dee had an interesting way of explaining why they focused their shows on playing hit songs from the way back past.  Doug said the band remained big fans of that era of classic rock/pop music. The band saw themselves as curators and preservationists who wanted to play songs that should never be forgotten.  Sure they were paid for the gigs and paid well, but the passion and performing of that music came from somewhere deeper.  These young men were sincere artists and a great show happened every time they were booked to play.

Take a listen to Kool Ray & The Polaroidz’ original song “I Heard You Fell” and enjoy.

I last saw Kool Ray and the Polaroidz in the early winter of 1983 when they played a low key club on the northwest side of Chicago.  It was a snowy cold night and this was one of the few times the band rocked in front of less than a full house of fans.  That didn’t matter to me, I still enjoyed their sets just like that first time down in Carbondale. 

All these years later, I sometimes wonder whatever happened to this band that brought me so many hours of live music enjoyment.  Did the guys move on to so called ‘real jobs’?  Did they pack away their Gibson and Rickenbacker 6 strings and 4 string Washburn basses?  Does anyone know? Kool Ray and the Polaroidz, I wonder where you are…

A Few Things On My Mind

THOSE AREN’T BELLS FOLKS

I’m a TV news junkie and there’s a phrase often used during newscasts that continues to drive me nuts.  It’s said when a shooting occurs somewhere and the on-site reporter or news anchor will say, “Shots rang out.”  Shots do not ring out.  Shots or better put, ‘gunshots’ are not bells.  I’ve shot guns before, and they don’t ring.  Not to get over dramatic but a better phrase to say would be “Shots were fired.”  That is a more accurate depiction of what goes on when shootings happen.  Of course here in the Chicago metro area, shots are fired way too often.  I don’t want to get into that issue right now, let’s just use better nomenclature to describe the firings of guns.

Gunshots do NOT ring out. They’re not bells, gunshots are fired.

NEVER SAID, NEVER MIND

On the subject of conversations, when you watch movies or TV shows there’s a line used that is totally out of bounds.  I don’t know if anyone in real life EVER said it.  It happens when one TV or movie character has to turn down an invitation to do something or go somewhere, they will say to the person inviting them, “Can you give me a “rain check?”  Now the term “rain check” comes from what was written on major league baseball tickets in case a ballgame was rained out.  I don’t even know if that phrase is still on ticket stubs anymore but more important, I have never, ever in my life heard anyone say, “I can’t make that party, can you give me a rain check?”  Art often imitates life and vice versa but “rain check” is a term that belongs in neither place.  It reminds me of how comedian George Carlin mocked the term “Mary Jane” which was believed to be slang for marijuana.  As Carlin stated, “It’s in all the books, Mary Janes, marijuana,.nobody ever said it!” 

The next time someone in real life turns down an invitation and says “Give me a rain check” will also be the first time.

I CAN’T SEE THE WRITING ON THE WALL

When using public restrooms has anyone else but me noticed the absence of writing on the walls or the sides of toilet stalls? It’s almost non-existent now and has been for the past few years. Not that I enjoyed reading all the obscene poems or crude drawings of penises on crapper walls or phrases like “The joke is in your hand” scribbled above urinals but it seems graffiti like that has gone the way of 8 track tapes.  My guess is social media and the ability to post your weird thoughts online (often anonymously) has done away with bathroom comments and art.

Graffiti on bathroom walls has gone the way of the 8 track tape. Now we see all those postings in social media.

LIGHTEN UP

Lately when watching new movies I’m seeing a trend of showing teenagers bedrooms dressed up with strings of lights and all sorts of extra flair.  I’ve caught it in films like “Love, Simon”, “8th Grade”, “Blockers” and “Midnight Sun” to name a few.  It’s usually the girls’ bedroom that’s glammed with lights and trinkets and since I have no business being in or near teenager’s bedrooms I’ll guess this is the way it is with kids in real life. Maybe? Heck, when I was in high school my bedroom walls were adorned with an action poster of hockey star Phil Esposito, a stage level shot of The Who in concert and a promo poster for Animal House.  And I will confess to a “dig me” wall that had a dozen framed photos of me playing baseball and carrying on in school.

Movies & TV are showing teen bedrooms all lit up with cute lights. When I was that age I had one black light poster but no black light to go with it.

EVER GET A HOT FOOT LIKE THIS?

In the first week of the New Year I suffered a severe burn and did it in the most unusual way.  In my morning routine I was carrying a bowl of freshly cooked oat meal to my room. The bowl was on a small plate and as I moved too quickly, the bowl slid off the plate, fell to the floor and splattered on my bare feet.  Most of the piping hot oats landed on top of my right foot.  It burned hard and I quickly flicked the steaming chunks off and winced in pain.  At the time I was so busy cleaning the mess off my floor I didn’t notice how much my right dog ached. Even a cold shower a few minutes later wouldn’t ease the pain and by the end of the day I had four strips of scabbing on the top of my right foot.  I was careful when putting on my sock and shoe on that foot and yet those scabs opened up a couple of times, ouch!  Two weeks later I now have scars where the injury took place and a weird story to share about what happened.

Rather than burn my foot with scalding oatmeal, I’d rather walk on hot coals.

Speaking of feet, most of you know of my phobia of bare feet, especially toes.  Well in about a month there’s a new reality TV show coming to A&E. It follows the work of a podiatrist who helps patients with wonky toes and feet.  The doctor is African American and his show is called “The Toe Bro.”  Just like my oatmeal on foot story, I am NOT making this up.

I GOT A NAME

Recently while watching “The Hunt for Red October” on cable for about the 20th time, I smiled at a phrase I thought would make a good name for a band.  It’s in the scene when Sean Connery’s submarine captain character Marco Ramius directs a crew member to “Re-verify our range to target, one ping only.” The crew member played by Sam Neill questions this directive and Connery again says he wants “One ping only.”  So I was going to suggest “One Ping Only” as a band name. It’s offbeat and clever to those familiar with the “Red October” movie.  So I Googled that phrase online and there’s ALREADY a band called One Ping Only.  They’re a Chicago based group who claim to be “Purveyors of Dive Bar Rock.”  For more information on One Ping Only, check out their website and songs at

http://www.onepingonlyband.com/#music

Sorry Captain Ramius, there’s already a Chicago based band called ‘One Ping Only.’

The One Ping Only band beat me to that cool moniker.  I’ll keep watching movies in search of other potential names for groups of aspiring musicians.  In fact the other night while watching “Jaws” on cable I came up with another band name that has a nautical tie-in to it.  How about “Ben Gardner’s Boat”?

Try this kit for finding a cool name for a new band.

COMING NEXT WEEK: REMEMBERING THE BEST BAR BAND I EVER SAW.