log splitter talisman

  Im skipping ahead to the last time Kristin and the kids left.  They left for Burbank around the beginning of October.  Kristin (aka Gigi) and my buddy, David Giffels, said, “Read ‘The Dirt’ by Motley Crue”.   I’m compulsive about reading before bed.  It’s my way of tricking myself into slumber.

This book produced the opposite effect.  

Not a fun-filled romp.  

I was in a band.  Our version of depravity was someone having to throw away their sleeping bag because they puked in it.  When I toured with the TwistOffs, I had a frame reference from which to draw.  We all had a basic moral/ethical operating system (more or less).  It was a subroutine, forged from a stable childhood and quirky, solid & supportive parents.  The boys and I rumbled-off in our yellow school bus for weeks at a time.   We did this with unabashed innocence. We got drunk all of the time, we had hilarious stories, we got into a frakas or two, but the highlights were usually sweet and harmless.  For example:

Highlight:  A drunk girl kissed the side of our bus, right by the door where our pee sprays out of the funnel while we are rollin.  She really mushed it on there.  Her lip print was there for years.  

Another highlight:  Daring someone to do a shot of Jack Daniels mixed with the water drained from a can of corn.  

Dumber Highlight:  We all made hats out of paper bags and wore them for weeks.  

The Motley Crue dudes were homeless drug addicts who often stole food.  I know, I know, they made it because they suffered for their art…  I know.  But reading about these these Motley Crue fellas was really starting to bring me down.  I wasn’t judging, I swear, I was just imagining how miserable I would have been if I had been a coked-out and bloody trombone player.  Just as I finished reading about how Nikki Sixx and his girlfriend Lita Ford were messing around with the Necronomicon for weeks on end, looking pasty and scared, with forks and knives flying around and cupboard doors slamming and “MUUHHGUUUURRRRLLLLOWWWWWW”

Daisy meows.  Scared the living shit outta me.  She does this weird sad meow shit all night. She does it in the the bigger shower for added resonance.  She’s 17 years old and its the cat version of an old person crying out at a nursing home.  It curdles my soul.  I’m done reading that book with its wretched tales.  


My other cat, Jet and our stupid house bunny, Hermoine conspire against me. I see them shiftlessly gathered in corners. Upon my approach, they break apart with conspicuous nonchalance.  If they were human, this is where they would be looking at their watches.  Hermoine is no longer allowed into my office (room above the garage) because she has chewed over 20 power cords clean through.  I hate her.

Remember when I caught them doing dope?

A an employee of a certain national tree service company, located in Kent, Ohio, who will remain nameless, a second-generation tree ninja told me that 2 large ash trees in my yard had to come down. They are lousy with the dreaded Emerald Ash Borer beetle.  Im happy because this will keep me busy.  

So I busy myself between cutting wood, writing music and floating around in ennui at work.  The reason I haven’t published a blog in so long is because I have been goin bananas with writing music…  Why does it have to be writing or music?  Why cant it be both?  Lori Printy, my spirit animal, lovingly scolds me when i’m not writing to make her laugh.  But I haven’t been in a rock band for almost 20 years and now, I’m back at it like a bad rash.   


So i’m gonna cut this shit out of this wood. Manual labor.  Lets go.  I have a helper.  Hillbilly Stu.  He lives across the street, fancies himself a lumberjack.  He squats outside of his front door like an asian woman when he smokes. He can sit like that for a long time.  He’s a rascal.  Months ago, I was pulling out of my driveway, late for something or other, and Stu comes running into the street, arms waving, and the hood of his shit-mobile up in the air.  

“hey Al, um hey man, can you, uh run me up to Auto Zone and back?”

“uh, Sure” i answer, defeated.

We stand at the counter after he makes his choice and the clerk says, “$151.42”.

Stu turns his head to look at me.  “I’ll, I’ll pay you back, man…I’m good fer it. I’ll cut some trees down or sumpin”

I don’t want this yoyo in my yard.  A few months ago this lumber-zealot cut down a tree and took out the power in the neighborhood for 4 days.  He’s on the emaciated side.  You can make out what his skull would look like without the skin.  He is my only friend since I cut down these trees.  He’s gonna work-off the $150.  

He has been helping me with the wood, but only when I rouse him.  I ply him with Busch lites and an open ear for all his failed plans and chainsaw expertise.  He thinks i’m stupid. He uses the worst excuses to explain why he hasn’t been fulfilling his promises.  I am molding him into my henchman. A dependent sidekick.  Drugs have whittled away his initiative.  He struggles with an opiate addiction.  He has asked me for Subutex on several occasions.  I want to be nice and be his pal, but just as soon as we cross a little bridge getting to know each other, he takes this new friendship plateau as a opportunity to hit me up for something beyond the scope of our current labor agreement. Verbally hammering dudes like this to do what you want is pointless.  He’s 56 and has heard it all before.  I tried food. I brought him an apple at a break in the wood cutting action. He quipped, “Al, what in the hell are you bringing a man with no teeth an apple fer?”  Oh yeah.  He’s toothless.

I have the unique ability to find a way to embarrass myself in front of every possible class of people.  My quirky inadequacies do not discriminate.  When I lived across the lake, I was trying to set up a big tent in my backyard on my own.  I had the audience of roughly 6 retarded adults from Weaver School.  My neighbor, Don Berg, a teacher at Weaver with 30 years as a teacher brought these fellas over to his house to hang out. You’ve pretty much hit rock bottom when you get heckled by retarded adults.  I saw one fella wipe tears from hie eyes.    

Ive discovered that log splitters are talismans for wingnuts. Apparently, they emit a high-frequency whine that calls out to anyone with emotional, mental, and substance abuse problems. That’s basically every adult on Iroquois street, a zig and a zag across from the end of my driveway.  In the midst of all the chainsawing and raking, Steve, the defacto leader of Iroquois nation, rode into my yard on his 4 wheeler like a frontiersman on a great steed. He dismounted with a slow and measured cowboy affect as if he was a US marshall from the 1840’s. Looking at the ground, he asked if i tint windows. I said no.  

It takes balls to ride up to someone on their lawn wether you have malicious intentions or not. He has worn the same day-glo construction hoodie every time i have seen him.  Thats good because I can visually track him.

In a gesture of naive hospitality, I bought some cheap beer for Stu. Thats when Iroquois street emptied out into my yard. Sherrif Steve had promised me his wood splitter. I waited for 3 days and nothing. When i gave up on him and rented one, he returned as if we never met, full of cheerful bluster. What has changed?  He was drawn in by the talisman promising cold, free Busch Lites.

The spectacle continued.  At one point, a gal by the name of Patty sat cross-legged on my lawn, amidst the rumble of a log splitter and chainsaws, strumming an acoustic guitar.  Her toddler, Carson, teetered around the logs and axes. “Carson, stop” was all that she was willing to employ to contain her kid. James, her boyfriend, father to the potentially short-lived Carson, was busy splitting smaller stuff w a 2-headed axe with one hand, while holding a beer in the other. I held Carson as i picked up small brush wondering what the hell just happened.

My neighbor, Geri Young did not make the scene.  The wood chipper talisman has no effect on her.  She has a different skill set.  She knows when I burn stuff.   The next day, she showed-up up at the exact moment I burnt 3 trays of homemade chocolate chip cookies.  

The wood is all chopped and put away.  I haven’t seen anyone from Iroquois street since.


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Monkey business shoes

I spaced out last night and posted a story that wasnt finished.  So I took it down and put this one in its place.

   My dad, Gene was unconventional in absolutely everything he did.  Including raising Dan and I.  We are better for it, but our edification was, at times, tense and confusing. 

   In low tones, not soothing, Gene presented 2 pairs of hush puppies to the corduroy-clad retail clerk at Thom McCann’s.  The shoes were at the front door of dilapidation.  Wrecked but still serviceable.  Gene’s unreadable blue eyes lifted the clerks name off of his crooked tag.

“Ted, we buy here because you stand behind your product.  Now look at them.”

“Sir these shoe look worn.”

“Of course they’re worn.  They wore out.”

     Having since kicked off the fully tied aforementioned shoes upon entering the store, Dan and I peeled away from our dad like the blue angels in an aerial maneuver.  We headed for the back of the store where they had a real capuchin monkey.

     A live monkey, in a store, Chapel Hill mall, in Akron, Ohio.

     Respect for the brilliance of this marketing ploy lasts a tenth of a second when, upon reflection, your consider the thought process of the bloodless bastards that who contrived it. 

“Fish?  Please, Larry,  Fish  are for pussies.  Get a goddam monkey in there and lets sell some Hush Puppies.”

     Upon approach, the monkey was ping-ponging nervously back and forth.  The white, brightly lit cage afforded the animal no privacy.  The bars and the trim were highlighted with red as to give its environment a bit of circus whimsy.  The monkey had a meager hammock and some plastic logs spanning the width of the cage at unnatural angles.  The monkey slowed to a stop.  Dan & I locked eyes with it.  Dans palm slowly went to the glass. While it looked curious, as most monkeys do, fidgeting and tilting its head, one could detect malevolence behind its eyes. I knew it was waiting for its chance to exact revenge on all the asshole kids who, day after day, exert the “go-to” stupid kid move and pound on the glass.  I envisioned the monkey at night, its dreams filled with graceful swirling scenes of it triumphantly eviscerating kid after chubby, slushie-stained kid as it bounded toward the food court.

“Sir how old are these shoes?”

“How old are your shoes?”


“How hold are your shoes?”

Um these? I’ve had em for six months.”

“Do you take care of them?”

“I guess”

“That’s right. Thom McCann is a quality shoe, but these are falling apart.”

“But these shoes are broken in, they are worn, sir.”

“Of course they are Ted, that’s what so damn troubling.”

     We stood pondering this poor animals life. I tapped the glass inquisitively. Dan grabbed my hand.”Don’t do that”, he whispered, brows furrowed.  I wanted to tell him to butt out, but he was right and I resigned.  For a little kid, Dan could conjure up a authoritative tone.  It caught me off guard now and then.  Dan is what people call an “old soul”.  His “old soul” superpower was his affinity to calm animals.   Last summer, at the county fair, he was missing for a frantic 15 minutes until we found him in asleep the middle of 5 sheep in their pen.

     Quite suddenly, a jittery tornado of a kid materialized next to us and hammered the glass like it was a timpani.  We both jumped.  “Don’t do that”, Dan barked.  The intruder flung his eyes toward us without eye contact; the blank, unregistering glance of a child with a complete lack of social skills.  He seemed to look past us as if we were a far off sound.  He was shorter than us, but his face had enough scars to place him as battle worn.  He presented a coiled affect that connoted striking ability.  His neck tendons pulsed.  In defiance, he slowly brought both palms up from his sides where Dan’s words had caused them to reflexively retreat.  Slowly…slowly resting both palms against the cage, he lightly patted the glass, eyes darting from our turned heads then back to the cage.  We held our gaze with his rheumy eyes with every dart.

     “Hey you dick, that bothers the monkey”, I said.  “Shh” Dan frowned at me and sidled between us.  Dan would live out the rest of his life shushing me, only to turn and commit the same shushable infraction.  He liked looking at confrontations through his own lens.  To the casual observer, it appeared as though Dan was being diplomatic in positioning himself between us, but I knew he was stewing, he wanted closer.

     This invader into our monkey time had all the tell tale signs of a kid who had been at the receiving end of countless ass kickings.  However, brutal schoolyard behavior modification only strengthened his resolve to do the opposite of what was acceptable.  We didn’t perceive him as retarded, we could just tell he wasn’t right.  As a result, the only thing he had been able to learn thru this brutal cause-and-effect life was how to become a sneakier, slipperier miscreant.  He would never fit in.   Our ages disallowed Dan & I to understand the reason for this kids thwarted development.  Clearly it was due to the lack of a solid male role model in his life.  Our shining example of fatherhood was at the front of the store taking corduroy Ted to the mat over an $18 pair of shoes.

     The kid rested his head with a reverberating “clunk” on the glass.  Dan & I stiffened.  Time slowed.  I waited for Dan to unload.  As a little brother, nothing was taboo in the ring.  Hair pulling, finger bending, face scratching; skills commonplace to any little brother.  And upon getting upset enough, like a power-up in a video game, Dan, like little brothers all around the world, would achieve the deadly: “little brother freakout” mode.  A mode where younger siblings are temporarily gifted with superhuman strength. 

    Dan, of course, wasn’t even close to being there.  This kid had something up his sleeve.  Possibly literally.

     This kid smelled like fresh human shit.

     Human feces, when detected for the first time, is instantly recognized. No need to see the pile for confirmation.  His scent gave us both an unspoken evolutional message: “attacking me will be unpleasant”.  This is no different than animals who have evolved coping strategies over thousands of years.  Quick wrinkled noses and wide eyes flashed between us, and confirmed that this kid had harnessed the power of shit.  His own shit.  This kid had evolved beyond our conventional schoolyard weaponry.  

     “Two new pairs of shoes?  Thats out of the question!”, Ted screeched.  The shit-kids’ mom was queued-up behind Gene.  The strawberry blond nature of Ted’s beard started to clash with the growing redness of his face. Gene’s acute lack of emotional involvement allowed him to press his advantage.  He used to sell “Niagara Massaging Chairs” door-to-door.  Ted was emotionally involved. Ted was a marlin getting strip lined, pretending it didn’t have a 12″ lure in its mouth as it swam for deeper waters.  Gene studied the shoes as if they were an interesting antique.  Softer, Gene queries,

“Whats the warranty on these?  Can you tell me?”

“Well its…” Ted stumbled.

“Is it a satisfaction warranty or is it a warranty based in time?”

“Yes.  I mean, no.  I mean its both……..besides”, Ted indicated to the the rougher looking pair of shoes, “this style is from last year, we don’t even make these anymore.”

“Ted, this is exactly why we won’t even buy shoelaces from those assholes at Stride-Rite. Let’s ask the manager what the policy is on this type of warranty.  My bet is that he’ll agree.”

“I…I am the manager”, Ted muttered, then looked through some papers on his left, the faces Gene, with what he hoped looked like resolution. 

Gene sighed. “I’ll buy a new pair if you replace this pair.”  He nudged the filthier pair of Hushpuppies.

“Fine.”, Ted acquiesced, turning toward the back with a sigh. 

“Hey Ted?”

“Yes”, turning back, hands on hips then folding his arms. 

“Look, these things are worthless without saddle soap.  Throw in some saddle soap, will ya?  Thats way ya take care of those, ya know.”

Gene slowly closed the short gap between them, then touched his arm the way Dale Carnegie had taught him.

Almost whispering, sharing a secret, he says,

“We used ours up on the last pair, not to mention on all the other shoes we bought here.  Don’t want this to happen again, ya know”. 

Eyes twinkling, he squeezes Ted’s arm.  One beat too long.  Gene releases exactly one second before Ted prepared to rip his arm from his grasp.  He hurries to the back before Gene could ask for anything else.  The lady behind Gene conspicuously sighs, raising her thick arms, then allowing them to slap down to her sides like an octopus on dry land.  Facing her, Gene, casually leans against the counter, victorious, and asks, “Ever buy shoes here?”

“Thinkin about it.” she replies, frowning, guard up.

“Make sure ya take care of ’em.  After abouta year, they turn to shit.”

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Cooper’s first day on the set of “The Kids From 62-F”

The aqueduct in Palmdale.

The aqueduct in Palmdale.

The movie that Cooper is in is called “The Kids From 62-F”.  When news that the drive to the movie set in Palmdale, CA is 90 minutes, Kristin was a bit concerned.  However, Kristin’s excitement grew as she approached the house that the director and crew were using as HQ.  It’s gorgeous.  Telling me this as she walked to the house from the quiet street, a nosy neighbor picked-up on her midwest approachability and engaged her in conversation.  Before hanging-up she told me that everyone shuttles to the aqueduct.

62-F COOP 7

Coop and his henchmen.

Coop is the bully in this movie.  This kid is incapable of taking a normal picture.  In one of the many phone conversations, Kristin shared that Coop was holding court by the shuttle van.  Apparently they were “beat-boxing”.  I can only imagine.

Kristin and Coop walking back from an audition at Hollywood Center Studios. 

Ashley, our manager from the Myrna Lieberman Agency has been drumming-in the following for years and years:  Its not “if”, but “when” for Cooper and Edie.  They have a super-high call-back rate. I want to say around 90%.  Many child actors in Los Angeles don’t have management, let alone the ability to state that they have had an audition, let alone a gig, paying or otherwise.

The importance of Kristin’s laser-focused planning cannot be denied.

2015-03-27 19.23.29

Here’s Coop looking especially cheerful before an audition that required him to look “Goth”.

This time around, Coop’s callback rate has been 100%.


One audition had him sitting in the same room as a kid who’s sitcom got cancelled after a few years.  These kids are Teflon.  Business as usual and back to work.

“Got get behind the mule

in the morning and plow.”

“How did the shoot go today, Coop?”

“Awesome, dad”

“What was it like?  Did you remember your lines?  Did you mess up?”

62-F COOP 3

On set in the aqueduct. The Kids From 62-F

62-F COOP 2

The bullies prepare.

“Well, its not so much about the lines its that way you do it.  My lines were the most powerful ones in the scene, so I had to have the right attitude.  And I did.”

Does he think he’s talking to James Lipton?

62-F COOP 4 62-F COOP 5 62-F COOP 6

Kristin says that organizationally, the movie has zero hints of being sub-par.  Not that we have anything against which to compare it, but everyone seems to know what the heck they are doing.

They start again tomorrow at 9:00 am…

Where’s Edie?  She’s having Easter with the west-coast branch of the Mothersbaugh family.  The lovely Alex Posner was kind enough to swing by and snag Edie and take her over to her dad / my cousin, Bobby’s house.  I know this was a poorly constructed sentence, but I’m tired.

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Do not travel with me…

logo copyCoop has his first read-through today.  The Kids From 62-F.  Cooper and Edie each average about four auditions a week.  Coop had an audition for a CBS pilot.  Kristin noted how wild it was to see a few familiar faces from recently-cancelled shows.  Back at it.

During Coops audition, he made them the casting directors laugh their butts off.  I guess they asked Coop if he’s attached to his hair.  “Um yes. I am. I mean, its not a weave or anything.”  Laughter erupts.  “No, Cooper, we wanted to know if you would cut your hair for a part.”

“Oooh, I’m sure something could be arranged, but I need to check with my manager.”  He’s well-trained.

Kristin goes on to say that he rocked the audition.  Two hours later we hear that he’s invited back to read again for producers.  This is very good.  He read again and told them that if he gets a part, they can do whatever he wants to his hair.  But as these things go, when you find out that your kid doesn’t get the part, they say that they “aren’t moving forward”.  Kristin gets so bummed.

But at least she doesn’t have to be my “handler” at the airport.

Severe anxiety grips me when I pass thru the doors to an airport.  I’m not afraid of flying, I’m afraid of performing poorly when passing the through Transportation Safety Association’s security check.  Blown pass-thru’s stay with me until my bags hit the floor at my destination.  There’s been several.
As I mentioned in my last blog, it was just Coop and I this trip.  The girls are out there.  Our official chauffeur, Larry, “Papa Zeke” Burgess is a lovely man, and he’s very careful. That’s a nice way to say that he drives slow.  When he gets into the car at the beginning of journey, he activates what I call the Larry Burgess 30-point pre-ignition check list. This is the dialogue is envision going on in his head:

1) Seatbelt clicked.
2) Sunglasses out of sunglass clip.
3) Side mirror.
4) Side mirror.
5) Rearview mirror. Adjust. Then adjust back to original position.
6) Is this the right key? Yep… jingle jangle
7) Does the seatbelt feel like its losing tension? Tug. Tug. Unbuckle. re-tug. Clik.
8) Volume knob down? Check.
9) Wipers off? Check
10) Is that spot on the outside of the windshield? Yep. Nope wait… Yep..
11) Check the seatbelt again for tension.
12) Deep breath.
13) Did I put that cassette in the cassette storage rack upside down or was someone messing around with my-

CAN. WE PLEASE. GOOOOO.  I’m screaming this in my mind.  My head is turned his way with a patient, plastic smile on my face.  I will not say anything. I have put this man through so much. I nearly broke him when he helped us remodel our first house.

I’m the opposite of this. You will often see my children, before school, hopping on one foot as they negotiate how they will jump in the car when i’m backing out. They have gotten to the point that they dont even yell at me anymore.

After Larry safely deposits Cooper and I at CLE, we say our goodbyes and we venture into the terminal.  I turn to hear Larry get yelled at by an airport cop because he’s taking too long to leave. I see him replacing the bulb in his dome light.

We have bags to check and I want to do it inside because I have the Portable Podium, Coop has a big bag of clothes plus, we don’t have our boarding passes.  Ive tried the United phone app, but something stupid always happens to my phone the second its time for me to board, so please don’t lecture.

We approach the United counter.

Immediate tension.

Some dumb lady carelessly leaves her purse on the ground as she squints at the United check-in screen.  Then some clod of a man hooks the purses loop with his big bozo the clown foot and starts shuffling away.  I’m frozen in place.  I’m so stunned that I forget to say, “Hey.”  This idiot is unaware that he is doing this because of severe foot paralysis or he’s a really crappy purse snatcher.  We turn from the lady freaking about her purse to face the music about Coopers bag.  The baggage lady tells Coop that his bag is 3 lbs. overweight.

Tension escalates. I’m holding-up the line.  As I load my goofy podium up on the scale, he’s opening his big suitcase and just pulling out schoolbook after schoolbook. In my most patient and loving tone, I say, “slow down with the offload homie”.  Oh no!  I’ve addressed him in front of other adults!  His eyes meet mine as if I told him he has a face like a shovel.  As he zips up his suitcase, I keep telling myself that I’m not hearing audible, impatient sighs behind us.  Because he grabbed his Spanish cuaderno upside-down, papers spill out.  Minor setback.  He’s a little freaked and I bend down to help.

“Put those books in your carry-on”

“No, i’ll carry ’em.  C’mon lets go”

“Dude put them in your bag. Plus, I still need our passes and you need to weigh your bag again”

“No i’ll carry them.”
Through clenched teeth, I whisper,

“Put the goddam books in your bag.”

Then, out loud, for all to hear, he makes his exit, stating,

“Well it looks like you have things under control here, father.” He winks at me as he shows me his United iPhone boarding pass app.  The bar code front and center.

Kettle whistling.

The look on my face: “Ypure leaving me?”
The look on his face: “See ya, fat man”

With that he leaves me, book bag on his shoulder and carrying 3 heavy textbooks.

Both bags checked and boarding passes in hand, I leave the hostile baggage check area just :30 behind Coop.

The TSA showers my kids with love. They always get to take the short, “Pre-check” line.  If Coop or Edie had were rotten to the core, all they would have to do is find a way to sit n the cockpit. Their chippy bickering banter would force the pilot to take us right into the side of a mountain.

Coops long gone. It depends on the person, but ive found that TSA usually doesn’t let the parents go with their prechecked teen. I mull this over as I trudge up to the security gate where beyond, roped-off cattle mindlessly await their slaughter. I watch these grown american taxpayers humiliatingly inch ahead through dignity-stomping switchbacks as pre-checked children jeer at them from an area set-up by the TSA specifically for jeering.

I flash my boarding pass to the greeter, but instead of going right, I go left!  Somehow I’ve been gifted the precheck line!  How this happen?  I’m thrilled!  My hands numbingly touch my face and I look slightly left and right like a freshly-crowned beauty queen.  My reverie is short-lived. I realize that I have both of our boarding passes and Cooper’s boarding pass was on top. My windfall quickly plummets into devastation. I’ve duped the greeter! I’ve scammed precheck!  I fumble for my pass, and of course, no precheck. Think, mofo. Think, man.  I ready myself for a strip search.  After 8 or 9 bad ideas, my decision to confess.

My entire explanation quickly tumbles out of my 7am coffee’d-up mouth, and I realize that I’ve said it too fast. I think the TSA lady was able to pluck out a few words like “son”, “pre-check”, “mistake” and “cavity”.  Impatiently and exasperatingly, she steps out from behind her security podium, grabs the velvet rope of success, un-clicks it and grants me safe passage to the, get this, front of the cattle line!

Yay stupidity!

Exalted, I check thru my prescribed security check. The gal working the cattle one is not interested in my story. I work my way thru the stupid conveyor belt of humiliation and start stripping down to my underwear.

I didn’t, but that what I feel like.
At least it wasn’t after a snowstorm where you get yer socks soaking wet by standing in other peoples slushy shrapnel.  The guy ahead of me is mid fifties and sporting the Just For Men look.  Dude is just barking at his wife but he’s just as confused as everyone else.  He doesn’t know the protocol.

NOBODY DOES. This is nerve-wracking.

I want to look like a TSA BOSS when I pass through.   But I get it wrong every time. Friday, 3/20, leaving Los Angeles in my TSA bluster, I lost one of my favorite hats, and tried to walk thru the underwear-snooper with my gay bluetooth.  Success eludes me here.  Kristin just laughs at me when I get flustered.   Here’s my most legendary tale:

My lost legendary TSA snafu happened when Kristin and I were coming back from Las Vegas with Lori & Dart Printy.  I had the elusive precheck status, but this important detail got past me.

I started stripping down at the conveyor belt, brimming with pride that I was ready and there was no hold-up to my fellow, inexperienced and slow-witted passengers. Wide-eyed and unbelieving, the young TSA dude manning the conveyor belt erupted.

I casually look around with that smug Ted Baxter from Mary Tyler Moore vibe and give a “Ok, who’s the asshole” look. Chuckling, I shake my head and continue, quipping,  “Hey young fella, where are you hiding the little dishes for your valuables?knight


“I know”, laughing and looking around…clearly, he’s not talking to me.  He’s talking to me.


My shoes are off, my laptop is out, my belt is hanging by one loop.  My stupid wallet is bouncing down the rollers somehow like a bobber in a stream.  My nervous histrionics have created an idiot avalanche.

The folks behind me have started disrobing in kind.


To me, imploringly, “Sir, stop. Please put your belt and shoes on.” I am soaked with nervous sweat. The kind that is instantaneous. Panic is making my ears ring.  I put all my shit back on without making eye contact with anyone. I can hear people huff huff huffing past me.  I try to jokingly explain myself to the TSA dude who currently is burning me with his heat vision.
“I saw the conveyor belt, and I guess I just went a little crazy. Usually theres a si…” The rest of the word, “sign”, dies in my throat.  Looking at the conveyor belt, it dawns on me that its there to check laptops and bags.

That’s all. I knew this because of the big sign on top of it.  The one I missed.
TSA dude is sweaty too.  He gives me a puzzled and incredulous, “…Damn…” and shakes his head.

Dart and Kristin were laughing so hard that I couldn’t tell whether they were coughing or crying.  Their faces were bright red.  Lori was already at a restaurant. She’s got a lot of juice at the airport.  She’s on a different level.

Back to Cleveland.
Mr. Just For Men is front of me.  I do not judge.  I have been there.  He’s lashing-out.  He’s nervous.  J4M turns around and gives me the once over. You know, the top to bottom appraisal, where, because of some self perceived higher ranking, ends in a almost imperceptible flicker of disgust.

What a Dick.  I hope he burns in that shoeless gauntlet.

He’s doing what I usually do, and thats act like a dick to everyone.  His wife is getting flustered and my family has learned to berate me.  He admonishes his wife to no end.

Here’s where things get dicey.  As a veteran, I grab 2 bus pans. Thats what those things look like, BTW. I always half-expect to see corn, soggy bread and milk swishing around in the bottom.  One for my laptop and the other for my belt, and shoes. J4M realizes that he’s short one bus pan, but instead of walking back, he just grabs mine as I start to put my laptop in it.  He jerks it toward him.  The mounting tension of this moment coupled with the coiled nature of my ninja-like awareness and hostility toward him makes my fingers grip the pan.  He tugged again, not looking back. I was ready this time and I let go ½ his tug. It leapt out of my hand and it banged into his other pan.  I stared at him stoically as embarrassment rolled across his face.  As much I wanted to enjoy the fruits of my rebellion, the greater reward occurred when, as I turned to retrieve another bus pan, I was greeted with another bus pan from the weary travelers to my rear.  They had solidified on my behalf. This would have been a great place for the slow clap.

When I came home today, I was the 4th person on the plane because I mistakenly stood in boarding group 1. The longer I waited, the more screwed I was. When my number was called, I slapped it down on the scanner and entered.  Like a boss.  I saunter all the way back to my seat.  Back there, the stewardess says, “Why are you in an early boarding group but you’re in seat 37?  Nonchalantly, I say,

“I like the back”.

If you are new to this blog, please follow me and read the old one’s!  What a farty journey!

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Seeing Without Watching

Go Riders!

Click the pic if you haven’t seen the “last practice of the season” video…

The Kent Roosevelt Rough Rider Hockey Banquet was last Wednesday.  I swear, coach Ben Barlow gets me so motivated that I want to run thru a brick wall for him.  The amazing thing about Rider Hockey is that we compete with 44 other teams spread out over 7 divisions in the Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League.  Parochial schools withstanding, Kent is in the the 2nd toughest division, which they won, BTW.  Parochial schools notwithstanding, Rough Rider Hockey was 9th in points overall.  Parochial schools recruit.  St. Ignatius and the like get 70 kids trying out every year, including a junior varsity squad.  Kent’s roster is completely homegrown.  17 tried out this year.  17 made the team.  One varsity squad.

The Mothersbaughs share the freshman class with 3 other families.  The Pfeiffers, The Jaggers and the Heims.  All quality people, all with their own “zing”.  The love is there.  I know this to be fact because they put-up with my wife’s bizarre idiosyncrasies.

When the puck gets into our defensive zone, Kristin compulsively shields her eyes.  She can’t look.  She does not do this for attention.  She’s an empath.  So much so that its debilitating.  She simply cannot bear the tension.  Her heart beats “100 miles an hour”.  When Edie was a goalie a few years ago, it was even worse.  She would break-out in nasty hives all over her neck.  This package of anxiety, along with usual her wacky comments, force me to watch the game from the opposite side of the rink.  Other hockey moms including Erika Pfeiffer and Barbie Jaggers lovingly accept her into the hockey mom coven, no questions asked.

During one game, Kristin attracted the attention of a curious lady who misinterpreted her behavior as a disability.

Erika was sitting between Kristin and the curious lady.  Curious leans close to Erika and quietly observes,

“Is your friend um, visually impaired?  I mean, it’s so sweet how she’s really tuned into everyone’s reactions.  It’s almost as if her other senses have over-developed to compensate.  Its amazing how she can tell whats happening.”

Erika motions to interrupt, but realizing this is comedy gold, she wisely allows Curious to continue.

(I would add details at this point, but I’m on the other side of the rink.)

Curious continues, “It’s really amazing how she anticipates whats going to happen next.  She knows which way bodies are turning, and she knows when to look at the other end of the ice.  Amazing.”

Erika lets her off the hook,

“Oh, no, she can see, she just can’t watch.”

Curious is flustered and embarrassed, then starts laughing.  Kristin was oblivious to the conversation because she was concentrating on not seeing anything out of the front of her eyes.


Blind Jedi Lady

Erika explains to me later that she sees Kristin as somewhat of a neurotic Jedi where her peripheral vision is as strong as her normal, straight-ahead focus, perhaps even stronger.  She bases her reactions on the body movements and head-jerks of other moms around her.  Erika occasionally messes with her by cringing when nothings going on.

Coop and I got on a plane and headed to Burbank.  I brought the Lectern.  Hopefully Kristin doesn’t cringe when I light this baby up at the mall.2015-03-12 10.01.17

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Rougher Antecedents

Kent picked a badass after whom to name the High School.  

(It’s “Whom” right?)

Anyway, I was checking out an article on Vice.com and it reminded me of a Rough Rider hockey tradition, where, after a win, a player is given “the hat”.  It’s big, black and very cool.  It symbolizes Teddy Roosevelt’s grit, guts and tenacity.  Upon presentation, the recipient reads part of a speech given by Roosevelt in Sorbonne, Paris, 1910.  That speech is called “The man in the arena”.  I mentioned this on FB a while back.

The phrase “rougher antecedents” is from The Autobiography of Teddy Roosevelt.   I had to look up the definition of ‘antecedent’.

It means, “A thing or event that existed before or logically precedes another.”


From the aforementioned Vice.com article, THE STRENUOUS LIFE: THEODORE ROOSEVELT’S MIXED MARTIAL ARTS, Sara Kurchak writes that, “As a child, Roosevelt was asthmatic and weak, and easy prey for a number of bullies. “Having been a sickly boy, with no natural bodily prowess and having lived much at home, I was at first quite unable to hold my own when thrown into contact with other boys of rougher antecedents, I was nervous and timid.”

Rougher antecedents.  It’s painful to watch, but kids need to get bumped and bruised.

I’ve done all I can.  The S.S Cooper has sailed.  

Coop is really coming around as a “producer/engineer” and regularly records rap songs for his buddies.  Cooper invited Alonzo and Jamal over to our house today.  FullSizeRenderBoth good kids, they have been over before, but Alonzo may be the most polite kid I’ve ever met.  He watched uncomfortably as I rode Cooper’s  butt about the state of destruction he left the room  where he records his budding artists.  Harried and exasperated, he quickly picked up entertainment detritus.  All this done sluggishly because he has only been awake for 17 minutes.  He’s got sleep marks on his face.

“Alonzo, does your Dad yell at you too?”

“Oh yeah.”

“Its about stupid stuff, right?”


“You know why?”  Without waiting for him to answer, I said, “Because by the time boys turn 15 or so, Dads have gotten important stuff like lying, stealing and manners out of the way.  So by he time we get to this point in your development, we’re just working on the finer points.  Like being on time and picking up your socks, for example.”  I went downstairs before Cooper turned-inside-out with embarrassment.  Alonzo was smiling.

Speaking of finer points, if they play a sport, make damn sure you have them dialed in on the birds and the bees, especially if that sport utilizes a locker room.

Ok, I’m precisely targeting hockey.

A cursory overview of sex the day before the season starts is folly. As all of you know, its waaaay easier when you start young.  Look at it like booster shots.  You need to go biologist.  Powerpoint that shit because they will hear disturbing, wrong, weird and hilarious versions of the “process” where, if not corrected, may seriously skew their career/mating trajectory.  I’m thinking this is what happened to dudes that marry their cars or get arrested for hammering pool rafts.

In light of the expected and necessary rougher antecedents, the edification of my son into a Kent Roosevelt High School Rough Rider Hockey Player, under the watchful eye of coach Ben Barlow and his staff, was a beautiful journey worth every bruise.

For those of you that are new to this blog, its basically a place to hear about what my kids are doing when they leave town to audition in Los Angeles.  They are actors.  Secondarily, Mothersblogh sheds a sad light on what goes on when left to my own devices here at home.  The first blog is here.

Kristin and Edie are leaving Monday.  Maybe.

Edie has an audition on Wednesday for a pilot.

Coop is shooting a movie next week called ” The kids from 62-F”.

Coop and I are hanging around for the Roosevelt Hockey banquet on Wednesday, then flying out Thursday.

I’m taking the Podium with me… 

Here’s a video I made about the Rough Rider Ice Hockey Team.

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I’m jealous of dogs. Their butt-sniff system would really simplify my life.

How in the heck can some medical professionals get away with crappy customer service? Man, I’m telling ya, I would have been out of business a long long time ago playing that game.

Primary care physicians excluded, of course.

I am painting this with a broad brush, I know, but by and large, have you ever gotten that vibe?

I had an 8am appointment with a medical professional today. It did not go well. He was kind of a dick. The long walk back to his office was silent, except for my innocent attempt at small talk. After “greeting” me with the smallest of utterances, I mentioned, perhaps a bit bubbly, that (coincidentally) my company had installed much of the decorative window film on this doctor’s floor. He kept walking, but only acknowledging me with a nod without turning around.
Well, we’re off to a wonderful start here.

I even thought about Steven Covey’s story about the man on the train with 3 kids.  The Paradigm Shift story.  If you don’t know what i’m talking about, click here.

But i’m telling you this wasn’t the case.
Dude was not interested in getting to know me in the least.  Snark Factor: 10.98.  Red Zone.

To him, light conversation is sebaceous matter in a nasty pimple.images
(I’ll let you fill in the rest of the metaphor on your own. But stay with it’s because there’s a lot in there. Oops. See?)
If we were at a bus stop or next to each other at a urinal, his aforementioned nod would be effusive. But I’m his customer, and I had hours of testing ahead of me, so break me off some freaking convo, bitch.
If only this dickhead’s job depended on winning my cranky ass over.


Anyone who sells for a living will tell you that the courtship ritual that is sales is a delicate dance.

People buy from people they like. Boom.

Assume nothing. Boom.

Buyers are Liars. Boom.

We have to put up with a lot of shit and kiss a lot of behinds.  We love it.  And it’s not what we sell that gets us excited, (unless its like guitars or dragsters or something)  we like winning and we love the fight.

In the words of the great David Sandler, “Sales is a Broadway play put on by Psychiatrists.”

Doctors don’t have to win you over before you give them your money. This doesn’t bother me in the least if they are nice. Or even boring. But smug? Hells no. “Hey Dr. Flabbergas, I appreciate you coming out to the house and sharing your presentation with me, but I’m waiting on pricing from 1 other doctor. So, before we award the contract for my brain hemorrhage…..”

If Only…

Look, I don’t need a confetti-choked, happy pants welcome-wagon,  ice cream parade, but have a pulse, for chrissakes.

Ever meet a bartender who hates people or the teacher who hates kids? This dude had to study for years and years at great expense only to forget that he was a curmudgeon.

As the consultation uncomfortably ambled along in his stuffy office, his affect teetered on arrogance. He was asking me questions that were on the lengthy intake form that I got up early to fill out. After the 5th question, I said,
“It’s on the form, I think. I can’t remember what I wrote (subtext: “at 5:00am, dick…”).
I swear I said this as sing-songy and as non-threatening as I could. He stacks his papers vertically on the desk and says, “OK”.


He re-enters with an assistant. Armed with pad and paper, I think she was there to act as a witness in case things elevated to slap-fight.  Young gal. No smiles from her, either. Zero eye contact. I think she’s being held against her will. (I’ll investigate later). He sits down and continues to re-ask me questions I answered 2 ½ hours ago.

I’m aware that I need notarized documentation from acquaintances, old and new, declaring their approval rating.  Are we at war? Do you think i’m swell? I blow-up quiet types. They suffer my endless inquires. I need confirmation, man. Bleed with me. If we’re having a conversation and you do not tip your emotional card hand, I take that as the human version of the stink bug pheromone.  For some reason, it really pisses me off when people are rude like that.

Bye, Felicia.

Unfortunately, I’m not a dog. I can’t just sidle up behind you and smell your butt to understand your emotional state.  While smelling your butt with my human nose would certainly provide me information, I really wouldn’t find this information useful.  At all.  I wouldn’t glean anything pressing about you that was mission critical.  Quite the opposite, actually.
Come to think of it, I’m jealous of dogs. Their butt sniff system would really simplify my life.  They get all of their information from one sniff of the butt.  When I clumsily interact with someone I don’t know, instead of the stupid shit coming out of my mouth, I could find out where I stand with a person by whats coming in my nose. What kind of information are dogs getting when they sniff it up? Its more complicated than you think. According to the American Chemical Society, it’s all about one canine literally sniffing out important information about the other–its gender, emotional state, diet, and more.

When my attempts at conversation go south, I banter. I vamp. I do the Charleston. Subsequently, every nugget of witty wordplay that stampedes out of my mouth becomes more juvenile and butt-oriented. The diminishing returns of bonding and rapport. It usually ends with me yelling, “UNDERWEAR!!” and serpentining away. Kind of like the sped-up end of a Three Stooges episode.

The Doctor is back and is asking me questions in his abrupt, holier-than-thou shtick. I was trying to explain how I came to find the doctor that referred me to him. I said,

“ Found Dr. X on the Internet…………….Ya know, it’s on computers now.”

Cue music for the Charleston…


Clearly, they didn’t hear me. Ahem, let’s try this again…

“That internet. They have it on. Computers now.”

The assistant finds that the spring at the top of her clipboard is all-consuming. The ensuing silence, the utter negative black hole space of non-recognition of what I had just said went beyond the good doctor not getting a stupid Homer Simpson joke, this bastard was trying to nullify me; he was trying to omit my words from human history; as if I was the Dark Lord Sauron himself, spewing forth the foul black speech emblazoned on the One Ring.

I searched his assistants face, desperately trying to engage her in eye contact. Throw me a life preserver, a Mona Lisa smile. A smirk. Be my touch stone to reality, m’lady. She held her ground and went statue on me. Shields & Yarnell.sny8

This sick man had edified her with torture. I wanted to engage her in an eye roll; I wanted to express a, “what is with this guy” face to her. Nothing. I quickly surmised that she was being held against her will in some kind of student labor work-study deal. In my mind, I pretended to slip her a note stating, “tap your foot twice for if you need me to get help!”

At the end of our meeting, he had to get another piece of paperwork, but before he left, he kind of ducked back-in and said, “Let me escort you back yo the waiting room.”
Yeah, better not leave this young girl alone with me.

How dare you.

I tried to hug her, but she had disappeared thru a secret passage.  jk

Seething, I followed this mutant back to the waiting room.
No banter this time.
I went into a whispered tirade at the front desk.
Those poor nurses.
Shocker: they didn’t seem surprised…


I promise, I’ll get another blog out about Coop Edie & Gigi, and not about my neuroses…

In the meantime check out this link to a movie that Coop will be shooting in late March:
The Kids From 62-F

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