Tuesday, February 28, 2012


"What'll you have." asks the bartender.  He polishes a glass, his back to the ladies on the screen behind him.  They wear limited dress.

"I'll take a cup of your strongest. Please." says the Man.  He waves toward the screen above the bar.  "How long does it go on?"

"Loops every fifteen minutes," says the Bartender.  "The real ladies are in the other room, behind that red door.  If you came to trade, you can't trade for that.  You'll need real money."

They watch as the ladies slide down a pole, bodies twist, bare feet kick in the air.

"What are you looking for?" says the Bartender. "Our house brand isn't bad."  He looks at the shoe box under the Man's arm.  "Looks like you're here to trade."

"Yup.  Money is so scarce.  But, I found some good stuff."

The man puts the shoe box on the bar, and removes the lid.

"What's all this?" says the Bartender.  "Cards?  Baseball, Basketball, Ice Hockey?"

"Some are really cool."

"I don't know. These look pretty old.  Only a few are in plastic."

The Bartender fishes through the box.

"NBA, circa 2015. Jeez, that's 75 years ago.  Problem is, nobody much cares about anybody seven feet tall anymore when you got guys like Yangambi Zambia, and Malawi Mozambique, both over 10 feet tall.  Bila Tserkva, she's 10 ft 3."

"I got about fifty, some in plastic. They're okay."  The Man pulls one out.

"Wow, NFL.  That takes me back.  Exposure to the air ate these up, see.  These are real brown."

"Damn, the air is so polluted."

"Where did you find these, anyway?"

"In a trash can, just before it was lit up.  Look, here's a Kobe Bryant, and a LaBron James...Dwyane Wade."

"Dwyane who?" says the Bartender.  "Doesn't matter. Okay look. Here's what I can do.  I 'll give you $10,000 for the whole lot, okay?  You got what,  50 cards. So, at $5,000 a drink, you get two."

"You can't go three?"

The Bartender stares down at the man, and shakes his head.

"House brand is what you'll get," he says. " AlgaeGrog. 110 proof."

The Bartender picks out fifteen plastic covered cards.  "I'll just take these. You can keep the rest. This Kobe needs to be traded real soon.  He's starting to show his age, and these others, too.  Trade them before they become totally worthless."

"Thanks, my friend," says the Man.

"Everybody's looking for the new players," says the Bartender,  "The 10 footers, and 800 lb linebackers, soccer players who do the hundred in less than 6 seconds. Nobody wants old anymore. The new.  The exciting."

"So, thanks, my friend for the AlgaeGrog?"

He takes his two cups and walks over to a booth near the front door.

A real female opens the red door and walks through the bar.  She waves at the Man.

He waves and says, "You wouldn't be interested in a trade?"

"Money my friend."  she says.  She walks over and looks into the shoe box. "Cards?"

"Sports cards?"

She picks through.  "Cards can be valuable, but these?  They're kinda old.  I think some of these guys...Manny Ramirez...Teemu Selanni...Peyton Manning...I know, I have two brothers...These were valuable once, but not any more.  Same ol', same ol'  Right idea,  but bring me some players that're hot and we'll talk."  She touches his cheek. "A player we can all get excited about. You do that, Sweetheart, and I'll get you behind the red door."

"That's what I want." says the Man.

 "Well," she says, as she smoothly moves back toward the red door.  "Isn't that's what we all want?"

Help comes from:

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Thesorous.com, FreeSpellCheck

Saturday, February 25, 2012


"Glad that's done," Says Carol. "I hate waiting 'til the last minute."

"I just figure," says Alice. "Since we also have regular jobs, we declare 50% of  our cash.  Government has bigger fish to fry, I'm sure."

"Boss is always looking at me, driving up in the Jag, me his legal researcher." 

"Guys at school just think Mommy and Daddy bought me the Mercedes."

"Alice, Carol, LLC,  will be okay.  Now for tonight, Jupiter is gone."


"Yeah," says Carol.  "He's down to Florida to see his folks. So we're on our own tonight."

She opens her laptop.

"So, I'm thinking," says Carol.  "We bone up on basketball, so we've got something to lead with.  There's a car race, Daytona, but I'm thinking basketball."

"Basketball, I don't know anything..."

"NBA All-Star Game is on Sunday, so..."

They sit together, Google, take notes.

And they are ready.  It's 7:30 on a Saturday night.  LeSwank Restaurant and Bar at The Airport Pan American Hotel.

Carol wears a Thin Red Skirt, and Red Boots.

Alice wears a Strapless Dress, her blond hair is down.

Both have thick purple eye shadow..

They find empty stools at the bar.  Carol orders two Martinis.  They cross their legs.

Two groups of guys sit within earshot,  .

One table, four men wear Brooks Brothers. The other, three young men just off the golf course.

Carol and Alice confer. 

"The older suits are probably on credit cards.  But the golf guys, might be easier?"

"Jupiter would know which group to work, you know," says Alice.

"Suits will be less physical, and more grateful that we're here."

"Let's just start and see who responds.  We'll go with that.  I guess."

They bump fists, and begin.

Carol's voices resonates. "I still think Jeremy Evans from the Jazz, is the best dunker.  Much better than Pao."  She waves her hand in the air.

"No way," says Alice. "Blake Griffin.  And he's way better than Dwight Howard.  Way better."

They look at their fingernails, and re-cross their legs..

Both tables turn, silent, and look at the two.

Throats clear, eyes blink, eyebrows rise.

"How about Derrick Williams?" says Carol.  "He's no chopped liver.  And what about Paul George.  Pacer's would be nowhere without him."

"How about Joe Johnson," says a Suit. "He can dunk."  He smiles up from the booth.

Carol looks over.  "Joe Johnson?   Maybe he's an All Star, but he has to show up for the game.   Now Kobe, he's always been All Star quality."

"It's really one long weekend ad for the NBA." says another Suit,  "They should include players from China, maybe Asian players, not X-NBA guys playing over there.  Make it worldwide." 

"LaBron can out shoot them all." says a Golf Shirt

And it was on.

"I think the larger teams pay off the refs, so the best TV markets are represented in the finals?  Why do you think LA has four of the five starters.  LA?  Big market?"

"Oklahoma will be in the finals.  They're a pretty small market."

"Teams that make it to the finals," says a Golf Shirt. "Are the best teams, that play the best when in counted, during the season."

"So," says a suit. "Do you also believe in the tooth fairy?"

"But..." says Carol.

A Suit raises his hand.  " All-Star game is not what it used to be. Used to be a real game. Players took pride in playing, instead of just trying to push a personal brand and playing basket ball when they have too."

"What?" says Alice.  Then to Carol, "I didn't read about this?"

"All Star Game is a joke, like the Pro Bowl. Players don't care. No one plays defense.  Dunks are all people want."

"How about a four point shot, from way, way, down town. That'd be good for the All Star Game.""

"Say something," says Carol.  "We're being shut out here."

"But, what about..." says Alice.

"I'll probably be watching the Daytona 500 anyway."  says another Golf Shirt.

"I think my wife see's herself as Danica Patrick."  He smiles.  "Did you see that crash she was in?  Not a scratch."

"I'm thinking Jimmie Johnson.  Ernhardt's probably the favorite." say a Golf Shirt.

Carol and Alice turn toward the bartender.  "This is getting way out of hand.  It's like we don't even exist?  Are these guys blind?"

"What are we going to do?" says Alice.

"Those guys have a death wish you ask me." says a Suit.  "I have a 6 am tie time tomorrow, early so I can watch the Golf .  They'll tell me who wins Daytona."

"Daytona 500?  Why didn't we Google that?  Say something."

"Danica is good, but there are other drivers..." says Alice.  Her voice no longer robust.

Each orders another Martini.

"This is hard," says Alice. "Jupiter does all this. Gets the guys."

"My son's a writer.  He's been doing a documentary, over in Thailand.  Called me
yesterday.  One of his friends is up for an Oscar.  That's tomorrow.  His friend helped write a movie called Margin Call."

"Oscars?  Damn, that's on tomorrow too?" says Carol.

"Did anybody see Moneyball.  Thought that was a good movie. A lot of baseball in it, but if you take that out, well..."

"Take out the baseball?"

"Here you go ladies," says the Bartender. " Compliments of the couple at the far end of the bar.

Both have butch haircuts.

"How can this evening get any worse?"

There is a buzz. A Suit pulls out his iPhone, as does two of the Golf Shirts, and both booths slide out.  They all rush for the exit. 

Both ladies hold their breathes. "They all have guns?" says Carol.  "What is going on?"

Ladies, you didn't hear?" says the Bartender. "Western Law Enforcement Conference,  It's all weekend,  here at the Hotel." 

"Nope, guess we didn't get the memo," says Carol.

They sit for a minute in silence.

Then decide to sit with he two ladies at the end of the bar.  They gulp their drinks, and laugh, happy,  for once, that the men they were trying to work, stay away forever.

Help comes from:

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Thursday, February 23, 2012


A man places a palm tree at the edge of the roof of his RV.  He stands, looks at it, and smiles. He sits back down on his folding chair.  He wares a Hawaiian shirt. 

Another man sits on a folding chair, on the roof of his own RV, not five feet away.  Both sit in the infield of the Daytona Motor Speedway.

"What is that?" he asks.

"It's my palm tree.  I sit here and it's Waikiki Beach, wherever I park, whether in North Dakota, or in Barstow, I'm on the beach." 

"But there are no Trade Winds here," says the other. "More like gas fumes, exhaust, and the noise.  The engine noise here is impossible.  I was down in the garage area."  He stops, and blinks.. 

A lady in tight jeans climbs the ladder to the roof.  She holds two brandy snifters.

He nods. "That your wife?"

"No, that's Olympia.  Met her on the phone."

"You mean, on the internet, don't you?"

"No, " he says.  "On the phone. I called her twice a week, Wednesday and Friday nights at 7.  You hear her voice you'll know why I flew her down her. She's from Washington.  She had some cosmetic work done recently.  I think she came just to show off."

"Hey Glen, honey" says Olympia.  "Not easy climbing this ladder with these..."

"Snifters?" says Glen.

"It's not about the snifters, Smarty,"  she says.  "Doctor said I'd have to practice. But the way you guys look at me...it's going to be fun."  She shakes her head.

"Olympia meet...?"

"Rockford.  Rockford Decatur. I'm from Illinois. Call me Rocky."  He sits up straight as Olympia turns toward him, and waves.  

"Hello Rocky," she says. Her voice is low,  It's like a song.  "I'm Olympia, and this is Glen.".

"Glen Cove, I'm from New York." says Glen.

"Hello guys,"  He stands, and stares at those recent Acquisitions.  He blinks and breathes deeply.  

"My wife is down stairs," he says, and pops another beer. "She's not much of a car buff.  She says the only exciting part is near the end. Just check the internet and you'll get the results.  Like a Bulls game. Last three minutes all that's important." 

He laughs.  "You come down here much." he asks.

"Only $50 bucks to get in here, so I came.  After this it's the March Madness, the Final Four in a month in New Orleans,  No ball game is complete without the chance to tailgate."

"I just got back from the stage on the far turn," says Olympia.  "Had to check out Miss Sprint Cup.  I should have tried out for that.  I had her by at least three cup sizes.  Nice girl, but honey, she's kinda young, and in that racing suit, tough to see any female figure."    

"I'm sure you'd stand out." says Glen. They tip snifter glasses, and giggle.

"Lot of guys were taking my picture over there."
Both men nod and breath deeply. Rocky reaches for another beer.

"Girl says she's an adrenaline junkie.  Me too. And her home town's same as Jimmie Johnson's, one of the drivers, right?  Maybe that's why she Miss Sprint?"

She sits down next to Glen Cove from New York, and sips from her snifter

"Race should be starting. Cars are on the track," says Rocky.  He pops the beer.

There are voices.  A crowd forms on the pavement in front of their RVs.

"Who do you think will win?" asks Rocky, still standing on his RV.

"Whom?" she says.

"What?" says Rocky.

"I think that's right?  Whom is an interrogative pronoun, but here it is used as the object of the question.  I do a lot of work over the phone, so language is important to me."

"Okay, whom." he says. "I like Earnhardt."

"I think he's one of the favorites," says Glen.  "Kenseth, Stewart, maybe Jimmie Johnson. He's been hot last few years. But I'm thinking Biffle, Greg Biffle."

Olympia rises and stands by the front of the RV, and turns to face the two men.  "Gotta go with Danica," she says.  

Glen pulls a piece of paper out of his wallet.  "Biffle...Biffle...here it is, 25 to 1.  Earnhardt is 10 to one."

"We gals gotta stick together," says Olympia. "She said she's okay after that crash on Thursday."

"75 to one on Danica."

"I like her." says Olympia. "5'2" a 100 pounds.  She's small but talk about guttsy  She's been driving since she was 10 years old.   Victoria's Secret had her on their sexiest athlete list."  She waves her Brandy snifter in the air.. "She says she has to be patient, stay out of trouble, and with a little luck..."

"I was a fan of Jeremy Maysfield," says Rocky. He pops another beer, and gulps  "But he's not here. Once he failed their drug test, he's been black balled.  He said he could explain it all but nobody wanted to listen to him.  He mixed allergy pills and some kind of prescription stuff.  A positive on their drug test, you're done."     

Holding his beer, he moves closer to his roof's edge, closer to Olympia.

"A conspiracy you ask me? Like with beer." He holds up his can. "Supposed to be a worldwide drought, so Hops are scarce. Reason it costs so much now for a six-pack. But there's no drought."

"Conspiracy?" says Glen.

"When prices come down, they never come back to the same price they were before. There's plenty of hops."

"Conspiracy," says Glen. "Like the Illuminati?  The committee of 300? Tri-lateralists?

"They're everywhere," says Rocky. "You don't think there is a connection between fast food and the medical establishment.  Poorly fed people will always need doctors.  Doctors will never run out of patients.

"You should talk to Mitt Romney?" says Olympia. "He was over at the other RV center, by the large stage."

She looks down at the crowd on the pavement in front of the RV.  She waves. 

"Romney was here last year too, " says Glen. "This is his bread and butter, the South,  Republican stronghold. Wasn't George W. the Grand Marshal down her in 2004?"

A man calls up to her, and holds out his camera.

Rocky looks down. "Nobody cares about the start of this race, I guess. Wifey was right." 

Olympia sets down her snifter, kneels down and leans over the roof's small rail.  A topless figurehead on the bow of a ship.  Well, almost topless.

"This is spectacular." says Rocky.  He pops yet another beer.  "This is some good stuff."

The crowd flashes their cameras, iPhones, Blackberries.  The sound of the U.S. Air Force flies overhead. The loud speakers vibrate.  The people in the stands roar.  And the growing crowd on the pavement, pushes for position, waves, and continues to snap pictures of Olympia.

She smiles, leans over further and asks, her low voice like a song, "Is this better?"

"One more lap, ladies and gentlemen, and the green flag." says the announcer.  

Olympia goes viral. 

The man controlling the main TV camera that over looks the start-finish sees her pose.  He loses his focus, and comes in tight on the two RVs, Glen, Rocky, and Olympia.  Mostly on Olympia. 

"Closer...closer," says the director in the truck, the main network feed.  "Real, real close."

And as they concentrate on a full screen view of Olympia's new Acquisitions, their worldwide TV audience misses the green flag and the start of the Daytona 500. 2012, Americas Great Race. 


Help comes from:
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Monday, February 20, 2012


7:30 am.  I sit in my usual booth in the back, near the kitchen, at the Montana Galley.  Oat meal with a dusting of cracked flax seeds and two dollops of honey, sits on the table, and a tall buttermilk. 

Helena, the owner, walks through the restaurant with a coffee pot, pouring refills. 

She is the key to my brainstorm.  It came to me about 3am.

As she walks by, "Helena, my dear. I have a proposition." I say.

"Woody, It's not even 8am.  Wasn't Friday night enough?"

"Sure that was all right, but..."

"All right?"  Her fist goes to her hip.  She looks down at me.

"You're wonderful," I say. "But I have an idea. Let's open a Sports Bar."


"For real." I say, and wave to her to sit.

She sets the pot down and slides in across from me.

"A Sports Bar? You mean change the Montana Galley?"

"No, no," I say. "You have that storage room in the back."

"Opening a restaurant is no easy trick, you know.  Looks simple, but it's hard work.  So..."

"There 's no competition, within five miles.  A real money maker."

Her eyes widen.  "Money maker?"

"The Stiff Left Jab Sports Bar."

"Stiff Left Jab?  Spots Bar?  I don't know about the name.  Every biker and Poluka..."

"I like it.  Short. Easy to remember, and you'll get a whole new customer base."

She shakes her head and slides out of the booth. "I gotta think about this.  Sports Bar?"

There's work to be done. I pull out my IPhone and dial.

"Tommy...Tommy Lasorda" I say.

"Hello?  Sounds like Belair?  Brentwood?"

"Tommy," I say.  "We're opening a Sports Bar.  We'd like you to be one of our Celebrity Bartenders.
Stiff Left Jab Sports Bar. What do you think? I need your opinion."

"What's my opinion on being your bartender.  You call me up before 10am and you ask me that. What the BLEEP do you think is my opinion? I think it's BLEEPIN' crazy.  Me serving BLEEPIN' booze, to a BLEEPIN' bunch of BLEEPIN' BEEPS. What is my opinion?  How could you ask me a question like that?  What is my opinion of being your bartender? "

"it's not a bar yet." I say.

"And you thought about me?  Now if it was a linguini with clams bar, now you're BLEEPIN' talkin;'"

"So, you in, Tommy?"

"Sure, why not. Sounds like fun.  But Brentwood, I've been readin' your column and that last one was BLEEPIN'..."

"See ya Tommy. Thanks." I say.

I scan my address book.

"Joe?   Joe Namath?"

"Hello, what time is it?  I want to kiss you."

"What?" I say  "Wait." 

"Not you," says Joe.  "Who is this?  I just got in.  Who is this again?"

"It's Brentwood Belair.  We're opening a sports bar and we want you to be one of our Celebrity Bartenders."

"Hold on, sweetheart,  I'm on the phone.  Who is this again...wait, no more champagne."  Pop.  "Okay but just a little...Hello? Sports Bar?   Hello..."

Thanks Joe.  Tending bar is probably a bad idea."

"Why not...Hello, who is this again...just a sip...I wanna kiss you..."

"Talk with you later Joe."

I scan more numbers.

How about Denny McLain, Tiger pitcher.  I dial.

"Florida State Department of Corrections.  How can I direct your call?"

"Oops, I must have an old number.  Thanks, bye."

I dial again.

"Pete?  Pete Rose?"


"This is Brentwood Belair.  I write  a sports column..."

"Hey, I know who you are. Only writer that every really was nice to me in the paper.  What's up.  Check out my website, you need to learn more about my life."

"Thanks, Pete, but I'm opening a Sport Bar her in The Valley. We'd like you to be a Celebrity Bartender."

"Sounds great, but I already got a gig her in Vegas.  People have dinner with Charlie Hustle at $5 grand a pop.  Kinda keeps me busy.  Come on over, I'll set you up."

"Five grand?  I don't think we can go that high."

"Vote for me for the Hall of Fame, next time.  I put in my time, you know.  And if you hear about
some team needing a batting coach.  I can work that around this dinner thing."

"Just bartending, Pete. Thanks."  I hang up.

I look up and as I live and breathe, who comes through the front door?

It's Tanya Harding, and who is that with her?  Evander Holyfield?  He wears a torn sweater, and unlaced shoes. 

They sit near me in the back.

"You know how this is," she says. "When I start boxing again, I have to win these matches, at least at the first, become popular again.  All you have to do is be around...the Intimidation factor...let them know I have to win the match.  They'll be watching me so close..."

"I know what to do," he says  "How much you going to pay me?"

"$100 per match I win."

He looks at his hands.  They are dirty.  "I have to make child support payments, I'm behind.  You'll have to do better.  They're  working on some property I have, keep it out of foreclosure so maybe I won't need to be doing this."

"So you're in." she says, and pushes an envelop across the table.  "For starters."

I look over at their table. "Hi" I say.  "Tanya. Evander.  We're opening a sports bar here, and ..." I move over to their table..."would you like to be Celebrity Bartenders one day a month?  We could work out a percentage."


They look at me.

"Have you been listening to us?" says Tanya.

I look into their eyes. "You'll tend bar, right?  And I won't say a thing about the envelope.  Be our secret."

"It's not what you think," says Tanya,  "Really." Her hands shake.

"I'll be in touch," I say, as they slide out of the booth, and out the door.  They did not look back.

Helena watches them leave.  She looks at me.  "You're making my customers leave?"

"I had to sell my integrity for a couple of bartenders. Tough decision but I did it for us.  Sports Bar is coming together."

"This name you picked, Stiff Left Jab.  I don' t know?"

"We'll talk about it later.  But first I'll need to get into that storage room and start measuring."

And that's how the Sports Bar began.   


Help comes from:

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BleacherReport.com...worst players...,

Friday, February 17, 2012


A man, pulling an IV, wedges sideways through the room's triple wide doors, and flops down on a bench.  Three young ladies stand against the far wall. A blond, a brunette, and a mixed.

He is excited by the large waffle of skin that hangs from her upper arm. Very excited.  He continues to stare at her arm.  Beads of sweat form on his forehead.

That magnificent arm belongs to the brunette. 

He looks down at his G42000model800, and texts her.

"You're it my dear.  Not to embarrass you, but it's not the plumpness of your breasts or thighs, but the back of your arms.  That wobble.  Yaow-zza!"

"I'm glad you like,"  she texts, and shakes her arms.  "That's how I'm made.  At 5 ft 3, I have to stay between 325, and 350, but thanks to you I'll also be able to hit my monthly work quota.  If I get much larger,  we wouldn't be able to physically do this."

"I'll be honest with you.  I have a girl friend, and well, we tried, and you're right.  We couldn't do it.  I pushed but I just couldn't get there. But she's okay with this."

He looks at her thighs, like jelly. His face turns pink, his hands shake.

"You're my reward, " he texts, "I kept my weight between 825 and 850, for three months.  It wasn't easy." 


The other ladies turn, heads down, dawdle out, dragging their IV's.   

"This is an important day for me," he texts. "I'm 24 so I've got what, five years until the Diabetes takes me.  I'm already starting to go blind.  But at my age that's normal."

"I'm 18, so I have a few years.  What do you do."

"I'm a doctor."

"Are you a real doctor, or a Phd?"

"You got me. I'm a History Professor."

"Well, you know what I am.  That's what my testing showed I was best at.  It's how I can best serve my community, my country, the Wizard."

"Did you know that people used to live to be 80 years old?"

"Get out"  she texts.

"Fact.  And they were really scrawny.  25 years old male, 6 foot tall, weighed about 180 - 190. That was considered healthy.  I saw pictures.  This was about 200 years ago.  Second half of the 20th century into the 21st."

She sits by him on the bench. She clutches her IV.

"How could anybody live like that?" she texts,. "So thin. What happened?"

"Well it was an economic thing.  Back then the Wizard taxed everybody. But about 1990 to about 2020 the richest people made friends with the Wizard, so they didn't pay much in taxes. 
That limited the amount of money they had for public education. So to make it work, they did away with all physical activities, their sports programs, and concentrate on academics.

"We have sports. Darts, Curling, and what about Poker?"

"Not quite the same.  I'm talking running, jumping, throwing balls. If they knew how the lack of real exercise would effect everybody, they would have concentrated on finding more money than cutting sports.

"Since then the human body has lost it's muscle. And since we text so much we've lost our voices, too.  Believe it or not, there was no Diabetes to speak of back then, before computers and iPhones.  People without much money bought cheaper food, food without nutrition.  That made everyone more obese."

"How could people live that way.  I don't know how I could live without my IV, or my computer."

"People didn't talk, they texted.  And they learned everything from computers, like we do now. That's how it started. The human body needs to be active.  But if I walk more than ten feet a day,  I have to sit down. 

"Well, why doesn't the Wizard start making us exercise more." 

"Good question.  About that same time, around 2000 - 2025, the 10 largest corporations in the world teamed up with the Wizard, and bought the world's oceans,   That's how they make our food for our IV's,  fish and sea water.  Eat too much, it ruins our productivity, but if we don't eat enough, profits are lost.

"But hey, that's all history.  Lets think about tonight."

"Boy I like you. You're so smart."

"So, let me go home and rest up.  Those wobbly upper arms of yours.  They're so exciting.  So  exciting," he texts.

"Watch out. You might lose a few pounds tonight," she texts.

"Oh boy, I forgot about that." He looks at the flab around her middle, and takes a deep breath. "I'll take my chances."

He hoists himself up, and duck-walks sideways out through the triple-wide door. She winks and waves. He has a smile on his face.


Help comes from:

The Washington Post/Cutting Athletic Programs.
University of Maryland/www..umd.edu,
Google, Wikipedia,
USAToday.com/sports/kibosh on sports/2009

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


"Hey, Harrison,."

"Hi, Chef Sandy. I'm here like you wanted."  The young boy cannot make it through the back door straight on, so he turns sideways, and squeezes in.

"Right on time," says Sandy. "We're doing up a whole batch of my Two Milers today."  He points to three boxes of hot dogs.on the restaurant's kitchen counter. "We'll work together on this.  I'll show you exactly how we'll do it.  Just do as I say,  follow my lead on this, and we'll both be happy."

"Another Cook-Off today?" asks Harrison.

"That's right, Harrison."   Chef Sandy reaches into his apron pocket and pulls out a syringe,

 The Executive Chef of the Nittany Diner, Chef  Joey, enters the kitchen.

Sandy turns his back on Chef Joey, and puts the syringe on the table.

"Hey guys,"  says Joey.  "Getting the hot dogs ready for the Cook-Off?"

"Sure am," says Sandy,  "The Two Milers, the long ones. The ones all the kids like."

As sandy turns to smile, Joey sees the syringe.

"What is that, Sandy?  A syringe?  What are you doing with that?"

"Nothing, Joey. I promise. It's not like it looks."


"Okay," says Sandy. "It's just some of my super sugar solution.  I like to give it to them this way.  Little kids love  it.  That's why they eat so many.  I just stick it in like this."  He injects a hot dog.

"That's horrible. More sugar? You know what that does to kids?  Effects them for their whole lives."

"Sugar? Come on. Joey,  It's not that serious. It's how we win Cook-Offs. Been doing it this way for years. That's why so many kids eat here."

"It's wrong, Sandy, and you know it." says Joey.

Sandy turns to Harrison.  "Here Harrison, take a taste of my Two Miler.  You tell me my hot dog isn't the best."

"It's sick," says Joey.  He stand there for a minute but says nothing more. Fine wrinkles appear under his eyes.

He leaves the kitchen, and sits with a cup of coffee in a dark booth.  He thumbs his iPhone.

"Mr. Scranton,  Hello?  Chef Joey here. Got some disturbing news about Chef Sandy."

"Hi Joey. What's Sandy McSandy up to now?  You guys ready for the Cook Off?"

Joey explains what he saw.

"Joey, I've heard rumors, but, how serious can it be.  Those young kids love his Two Milers.  They win Cook-Offs.  Thanks for calling Joey, and don't worry about it. We make so much money from those Two Milers.  Let's just leave it alone."

"I should have fired him on the spot. Those kids will never be the same."

"You should follow his example, Joey," says Mr. Scranton.  "Many of those kids he feeds are from under privileged homes.  Don't worry about it.  Now go out there and win."



Wrinkles grow further on his face. He begins to bend when he walks

Harrison wedges himself closer to Chef Sandy.  "I'm sorry chef, but this will have to be my last trip.  Doctor told me I was diabetic, and I can't eat those hot dogs with the sugar in them anymore.  I told him all about us."

Sandy stops injecting.  "So, your doctor knows all about it?  Okay, but it's not all that serious,  Just this one last time. It'll be OK.  Here help me with these boxes."

"Okay, Chef Sandy. This one last time." 

They arrive early at the large parking lot.  Other Food Trucks arrive, and form a long line.  The Nittany Jitney is right up front.  From noon to four, Chef Joey, Chef Sandy and Harrison serve the massive crowd.

A man comes to the Truck. He hands Sandy an envelope, and winks. "Harrison, go with this man. He will show you how they make their hot dogs on the other trucks."

"Okay, Chef Sandy.," he says as forces his way out the back door. 

Cook-Off over, they return to the Nittany Diner, to cheers from their loyal customers.  They win this week's Cook-Off.  It's because of the Two Milers, they all say.

Remembering what Harrison said about telling all to the doctor, Chef Sandy decides to hangs up his apron.  He retires.

Harrison, who is now 6oo pounds, talks with his school counselor.  He explains his relationship with Sandy McSandy. the injections, the super sugar, the road trips, and the other truck drivers.

"I told the doctor two years ago about it, but ...?"

The counselor is very concerned, and soon Sandy McSandy becomes public knowledge.

The police arrive, and arrest Joey and Sandy.  The crowds at the Nittany Diner are bewildered.  How can the police do this?  Chef Joey cannot be fired for something he didn't do?  This is an outrage.

Chef Joey gets an e-mail.  "Sorry, Joey, but in light of recent events in the media, information that shocks us all, something you should have stopped, you're fired.  Sincerely, Mr. Scranton, and the owners of the Nittany Diner.  P.S. We did not know anything about this.  We are 100% innocent."

TV news reacts.  'Nittany Diner Sous Chef Sandy McSandy, has been arrested and charged with 52 counts of injecting his Two Miler hot dogs with a super sugar solution. He wanted young kids to become obese. He has a fetish for fat young boys.

"After checking Sandy's personal computer," says the news reporter. "There are hundreds of pictures of obese young boys, each well over 7oo pounds.  Executive Chef Joey was fired today for having knowledge and not stopping Sandy McSandy.'

Chef Joey, after 35 years at the Nittany Diner,  listens quietly.

Massive wrinkles appear on his gray face. His breath is very shallow.  His head bows.

Chef Joey dies. 

There is a large funeral.  Many are still convinced Chef Joey did nothing wrong.

Chef Sandy McSandy awaits trial on 52 counts with 10 boys, over 15 years.  Customers of the Nittany Diner will serve as jurors.

Now, Judges have spoken to Sandy McSandy's latest request.   He wants to see his grandchildren, inspect their food.

Because the judges are either fond of Sandy, they don't see him as a serious threat to his grandchildren, or foreign numbered bank accounts have been open for them, they agree.

Sandy can see his grandchildren.

"As long as you do not feed them any of your Two Milers."  They all laugh.

The future?  Keep Sandy McSandy out of prison.  If imprisoned, there is no doubt he will soon get the opportunity to taste many of the other inmate's Two Milers. 


Help comes from:

Sporting News/perjury case...
Google, Wikipedia,
Washington Post.com/perjury...
USAToday.com/Penn State VP...

Monday, February 13, 2012


Bob and Ted stand on the curb, after a Saturday afternoon Vikings game.

"Boy, that guy St. Cloud, sure got his bell rung." says Bob. "Hope he's all right. I didn't see him in the second half."

"Looked like he really got hurt," says Ted.  "Both going for a fumble like that. Guy could have a broken neck. But that's the chance you take when you play football."

"League's trying to make it safer. You can't Horse Collar a guy anymore.  And Spearing.  That's  supposed to be illegal too, but how can you really rule that out.  I've heard some of the players are suing."

"Come on," says Ted. "That's what they signed up for  That's how the game is played. That's the NFL."

As they walk toward Bob's car,  a man in orange alligator boots, and an orange feather in his hatband, draws near.

"The game is over, gentlemen, but the night's not." he says.

Ted and Bob turn and look at the man.

"Are you game?" says the man.

"What exactly are you saying?" says Bob.   

"You don't have to be alone for the rest of the evening. They're waiting for you."

Bob and Ted, stare at each other,

"Am I too vague?  Here,"  he says.  He hands them a scrap of paper.  "Call these two ladies. They'll explain."  He moves away.  "You have fifteen minutes. Or you'll miss out."  He vanishes into the crowd.

Bob and Ted confer. Then make the call.

"Hello?" says Bob. "We got your number from a man with orange alligator bo..."

"No need to explain. I'm Carol. I have a friend, Alice.  Would you like companions for dinner?"

"Yes, but, we're low on cash. Do you take credit cards?"

"Debit. Credit."  Her voice is higher.  "As long as the card is good. We're easy."

"I think we already established that."

"Oh, funny guy. If I had a nickel...Okay, meet us at Bullwinkle's Saloon. It's near the stadium, and we'll talk.  How's that sound?"

"What about the man with the orange alligator boots?"


"I understand. Okay, but how will we know it's you?"

"Oh, you'll find us. You haven't done this much before, have you. Don't worry. Bullwinkles, half hour." 

Bob and Ted find Bullwinkles, enter, and see two ladies sitting together. They hold empty Champagne glasses.

The Curly Blond stands and waits. Bob and Ted slide into the booth.

The other has Short Brown hair.  Both have large Blue Eyes.  

"Don't be nervous ladies, we've been on blind dates before." says Bob. He breathes deeply. 

Ted smiles.

"So have we," says Carol, the Curly Blond. "Told you he was funny."  She hugs his arm.  "Viking tickets are so expensive, it is hard for us to find nice dinner companions."

"What do you do when the Vikings are on the road?  Place is empty?" asks Ted.

"Well, Carol and Alice, LLC, will have to work soccer games, I guess."  They look at each other. 
"We have other jobs."

"Alice is a legal assistant," says Carol. "And I'm working on her Masters in Econ."

Then Alice says, "Might not even be any football, fifteen, twenty years from now."

"What do you mean, no football." says Bob.  Carol still hugs Bob's arm.

"There are something like 21 lawsuits against the NFL right now, more than 300 players suing. 
Guys like Jim McMahon, Tony Dorsett, Ottis Anderson. 

Bob blinks.

"I read the Tweets at work?  Skinnim, Screwem, and Howe, Law offices? I work there."

Dinner is served, along with a second bottle of champagne, a bottle of Heidsleck 1907.

"More champagne? Why not," says Ted.  "It's not every night you can dine with such interesting ladies."

"We're not pretty?" asks Alice.  She looks up at Ted. Those large Blue Eyes.

"Yeah, that too." say Ted. "That's what I meant."  He breathes deeply.

"I'm Kidding. Don't be so nervous," says Alice.  She puts her head on his shoulder. "As I was saying."

"It's all the concussion in college football, almost 100,000 a year.  And all the law suits.  Soon insurance companies won't insure school athletic programs anymore, leaving schools no option, but to cut out football. 

"When I'm a mom," says Carol." My son will be playing soccer, or running the mile, or something,  if I have any say. Or golf,  that might be fun.  Only a few can play basketball.  Boxing and Ice hockey used to be the major sports once, so there is nothing sacred about football."

Full Metal Jousting," says Ted. "Talk about collisions.  It's a concussion or dislocated shoulder on every charge."

"From discussions in class," says Carol, "NFL will be around fifteen, maybe twenty years max. It'll only be played in Texas, and maybe Oklahoma. A single injury is life threatening."

"Law suits against the NFL boils down to the NFL not doing enough to stop the injuries, and those doctors on the sidelines?  They're hand picked.  They're told to keep the players playing.

"NFL claims they didn't know how bad the problem was.  Maybe they did, maybe they didn't."

They finish dinner, and champagne.  Bob and Ted sit and gaze at their empty plates.

"What?" says Carol. "Guys, you're come over for coffee, right?  We're just around the corner."

She kisses Bob on the cheek and both ladies push quickly out of the booth.  They giggle as they ramble out the door.

Six minutes later they are in a large third floor, two bedroom apartment. 

"Make yourselves at home, I'll get the coffee."  She comes back with four glasses and a bottle of Henri IV Dudognon Heritage Cognac.  "Something I picked up at the drug store. You like Cognac?"

Ted sees an Economics Textbook on the table, along with a ream of legal paper.  They told the truth. He is very relieved.  

"I think you're right about those injuries," said Bob. "I wouldn't want my son to get hurt like that. But every kid plays football."

"Everybody used to smoke too, but that's changing."

"Alabama and LSU are known for football, not so much for academics.  Now they will have to compete in the classroom.  That can't be bad." says Alice.

"And here," she says.  "So you'll be relaxed."  She wedges a chair under the door knob. "Now nobody can come in.  You're safe."

"So," says Carol." I'll need your credit card.  We're good on what we decided?  Alice and I have discussed the matter, and well, we think you guys are all right.  'Course after Alice checks your credit card."

"We're good," says Bob. "This will be another grampa story I can tell my grand kids over breakfast some day."    

"I don't know why, but I like you Bob," says Carol.  She laughs.  "Okay, then let's get you a story that can't be topped."

"Yep, that's what Ted and I had in mind."

Carol pulls Bob into the bedroom.  Under the covers, "You're naked." says Bob.

"That's kinda the idea," she says. "You're such a funny guy."  She yells, "Alice, I like this guy,  He's still making jokes.  I like you, you know."

Bacon sizzles on the stove.

I made you two breakfast," says Alice. "Least we could do.  We've decided we want you two to come back."

When football dries up," says Carol. "We might have to scout tennis tournaments, or maybe move over by the marina. Guys there have money, but they're just so snooty.  It'll be a hassle, but..."

"We don't like to put a whole lot in writing, but keep our number.  Whenever you need, you know, dinner companions.  We'll take sports some more."

They all hug and say nice things. Then Bob and Ted leave.

They turn back to see Carol and Alice wave out their front window. One is Curly Blond, and the other has short Brown Hair.  Both have Big Blue Eyes.

As they walk to Bobs car, they talk about coming back.  Bob looks at his credit card, takes a deep breath, then puts it back in his wallet.  Why not? They decided to come back soon.

Help comes from:

(CNN) -- A nasty collision during a...
What Would the End of Football Look Like?
An economic perspective on CTE and the concussion crisis
By Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier on February 9, 2012
Google, Google Maps, Wikipedia.(Vikings),
StiffLeftJab.com (Is Lou the Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth?)
ESPN.GO.com/nfl story (Hiding concussions...).

Saturday, February 11, 2012


"Hey, Woody. Guess who?"

"Well, as I live and breath, Peyton Manning.  This is a surprise."

"Had to go through that newspaper of yours, Valley Post Picayune? to get your number."

"Hey, I've been reading about you."  I laugh.

"Been up here, a facility in Thousand Oaks, doing my rehab.  Place is mobbed.  Maybe a thousand people watching."

"Thanks for the invite. I do a sports column, remember?"

"Don't worry, Woody. I got something a whole lot better.  I'm flying out later.  Where should we meet?  I got a surprise for you."

"A surprise, well, sure," I say.  "How about the Montana Galley. Ventura Blvd, near Laurel Canyon."

"Woody, I'm sorry I haven't called more.  I'll never forget that last high school game. You said, You got the potential, so just follow your instincts, and don't fumble the ball. Remember?"

"Long time ago."

"I think about those word before every game, I really do.  So I'll be there in a couple of hours."

"I'll be here."  Wow. Peyton Manning.

A couple of hours later, coming in the back door, I introduce Peyton to Helena, the owner of the Montana Galley.  

She walks out of the kitchen, a big smile and long blond braids.

He stops and bows.  "And so young to be the owner."

"If you're hungry, we make a dynamite, Waffle, Peanut Butter, Jelly, topped with Lobster.  Lots of protein."  She stands back.  "You're a big guy. You'll love it."

She looks at me.  ""Two Lob-Awffles coming up. Not the most appetizing name, but guaranteed delish."  She takes us back to the round booth way in the back. 

As we sit, he says,  "Woody, you've always been good to me in your columns over the years. Ever since High School.   And ...well...I have a proposition for you.  But you can't write about it.  It's off the record."

"But Peyton?."

He taps the table.

"Okay, off the record." I say.  I take a deep breath and nod. 

"There are a few people in my life that I remember.  You're one of them.  You encouraged me in high school, and wrote about me.  We were about the same age. Now I can pay you back."

"Okay," I say. 

"I'm buying the Houston Texans."


"NFL?  Football?  And I want you to be one of the owners."
"Hold on," I say.  "Can you do that?"  I look at him.  "Will they allow you to play against a team you own?   Wait, what're you saying?" 

"A young reporter.  You saw my potential.  Just those word have shaped my career.  Simple things. Come on. You'll be on the letterhead.  Half a percent of the Gross.  An NFL team." 

"But...wait a minute.  How will you find time to own...?"

He looks down.  He fingers his spoon.

"So, you're not going to play anymore?"

    "It''s all drama, Woody.  All this rehab. It's for the fans.  I've had three neck surgeries, and I might need more.  I can't throw more than 30 years, and the spin it just isn't there anymore.  Trainers tell me rehab will take time.  But...I'm looking at what?  More hits, and more concussions.  That's my future."

He fiddles more with the spoon. 

"I'm done playing football, Woody.  New chapter.  Time to move on.  I've thought about it. It's time."

"It's a life changing decision."  I say.

"I'll probably announce in May or June.  Then start negotiating for the Texans.  Don't tell anybody.  The price will go up."

Then he says, "It'll cost too much for the Colts to trade me.  And who's going to pay my salary?   No, it's time."

I look at him.  He smiles back. Then I shake my head. "Maybe you can practice you left handed shovel pass.  That might work."

His eyes twinkle.  "Or talk the Colts into bringing back T-Formation.  Every play will just be a hand off.  Draft a big offensive line."

We both laugh. 

"So, how much money do I need?"

He looks at his iPhone.  "Oh boy, I forgot. I'm supposed to do this radio interview.  I promised."

He looks around the room. "Think anybody'll mind?  I'll put it on speaker.  I've done thousands of these.  Smile and talk."

I look around, nobody notices us.

"KRUD radio 98.6.  Sweetwater Montgomery here with Sports Talk 98.6. We've got Peyton Manning on the line.

"I'm going to ask him the questions we all want to know.  Where will he be playing next season? Can he still pass the ball?  They're saying his arm is a wet noodle?

"Peyton, thanks for coming on. Let me ask you this, to begin with, will you ever play another game in the NFL?  That's the buzz.  Numerous neck surgeries, some are saying there's no snap on your passes anymore?"

"Good to talk to you,  Sweetwater. I don't know.  I'm still rehabbing."  Peyton's face is red.

"I can't believe I'm really talking to a legend," says Sweetwater.  "It's the real  Peyton Manning. But the Super Bowl, you think you'll ever be there again?" 

"I'm just waiting to see how the months play out. I'll continue to rehab...".

"Hold on, Peyton...Sorry...but we have a call coming from Joe Flacco...can you hold on?"

"Sure Sweetwater, I'll be here."  Then to me.  "Part of the job. My image with the fans. Insanity."

Helena arrives with two PJ Lobsters.  She slides in while we dig in.

"This is good," says Peyton. "Really."

"How about we call it the Peyton Manning Lobster Waffles?" she says

"I'd be honored, Helena." 

She squeezes his arm and smiles over at me. 

"My own waffle, peanut butter...upps,"  His iPhone beeps. 

"Hello, Sweetwater?...wait...Hold on Sweetwater, I've got a call coming in from...my agent."

"It's a text."  He reads to us in the booth. "Will you do a Metamucil commercial?  You know the constipation stuff...Two million, buy out, they have unlimited use?  We'll talk later."  He looks up. "Metamucil commercials. I'm already out to pasture."

"Peyton," says Sweetwater. "I have to apologize but we have another call coming in from Cam Newton, of the Panthers, so..."

"These interviews.I must do twenty...oh, hello again, Sweetwater?"

"Thanks Cam...Okay. You still there Peyton?  We have Doctor Huntsville. He had the same kind of surgery you did."

"That's right,"  says the good doctor. "After over 10 years of rigorous rehab in the gym, there has been no improvement in my nerve and related muscle strength."

"Well, Sweetwater, that is certainly good news.  Thanks a lot Doc."

"Peyton, thanks.  Are you coming for the Chili Cook Off in Loxley.  You'll be here for that, right?"

"All depends on my re... "

"Out of time. Thanks Peyton.  This is Sweetwater Montgomery, and we'll be right back."

Peyton began to laugh.  All three of us laugh.  Then we stop, and stare at our empty dishes.

"Yes, playing is over, but I'm not over."  He looks up.  "We're going to be football owners." And slaps the table. "I know you're in.  Half a percentage of an NFL Team.  I'll send you the paperwork. My gift to you, Woody."

We walk to the back door.  We all hug. 

"Okay. Gotta go.  I rented a pick up truck.  Be easier to keep those kids from TMZ off my back.  They follow me everywhere.  So, thanks Helena, for naming a dish after me, and Woody. Thanks for everything."

And off he goes toward LAX and back to Indy.

We wave. 

"Thanks Peyton," I say.  

"Being an NFL owner? That's a good thing,  Right?"

I look at her, and put my arm around her shoulder.  "Yes, Helena.  That's a real good thing."

*Help comes from:

The Washington Post/ Peyton Manning
Google, Wikipedia
Yahoo Sports/Fan's Take
Nisqually Valley News/Seahawks

Thursday, February 9, 2012


"Tom."  She waves from stage left, then runs to the center of the stage.

"Gisele?"  He removes his lab goggles, and walks to the center of the stage.  His head is down.

They meet.  She takes his hands.  "Oh, Tom," she says.

"Gisele." he says.  "What have I done?"  His voice is rocky.

A young man sits in the front row.  He holds a script.  "Yes, yes, Tom. That's good. Go with it.  You're coming from a state of anguish. You've just been given a B- by your Biology Teacher.  You're sick about it. That's your motivation."

A Young Lady sits near.  She starts to cry..  "Oh, Tom," she mumbles. "You don't have to be an A student. You're Student Body President.  You're on the Debate Team. You're the guy every girl in school would die for.  You can do anything you put your mind to, I know you can."

There is an off stage voice.  "He failed.  It was his fault.  He had to dissect a smelt. His hands shook.  He did not deserve an A grade.  The pressure of the exam did him in."

Gisele turns toward the voice.  "You're wrong," she says. "He had a Biology partner.  He was partially responsible.  He could have steadied Tom's hand.  Smelt is a tiny fish, if you didn't know."  She turns back.  "Oh, Tom."  She strokes his face.

"Gisele," says Tom.  "It wasn't all Wes' fault.  We studied anchovies, not smelt.  We thought it would be good enough.  We had pictures, we drew it's innards, we dissected them on the computer.  We ate them, cooked, boiled, sautéed them. Wes even slept with one near his head.  He was thinking osmosis."

"Oh Tom," she says. "I hope it was in a plastic bag.  Oh Tom."

He looks directly at Gisele.  "Wes helped me so much on the other exams.  We're a team in the lab.  It wasn't his fault. It was those anchovies."

Another Young Man enters stage left.  "We didn't see the smelt coming, Tom.  We were under some real pressure with that exam.  And we thought studying anchovies would be good enough."

Tom and Gisele turn toward the man.
"Maybe." he says. " If we had practiced on a chub, or Carp or maybe Sand Dabs.  I should have just bought a Flounder.  It would have been just as good.  Who knew anchovies were just too small to really see?"

An older man stands in the aisle and watches. He taps his lips with his index finger. 

"Is this all there is, Wainwright?  Just the two main characters?"

"Yes, Mr. Fairbanks," says Wainwright.  "My play is about people on top of the world, who fail. then move on to greater heights. These are the only two the audience really cares about.  Everyone else is simply the rest of the cast."   

"Oh Tom." says Gisele. She hugs Tom.

"Oh Gisele," says Tom.  He rests his head  on her shoulder.  Tears fall to the stage

"Yes, Tom," says Wainwright.  "Go with it.  Stay in the moment.  You're sad, and, yes. Tears.  Perfect."

Gisele lifts Tom's head, and brushes back his hair.  "So, a B- on your lab score. You wanted to be the absolute best, but not this time. So you won't be going to Stanford. You're over all score is still good enough for Princeton, or Michigan State.  Heck, UCLA will welcome you with open arms. Oh Tom."

"Oh, Gisele," says Tom. "All I wanted to say was I'm going to Stanford. But I failed."

"It's okay," she says.  She leans in and kisses him.  "We have each other,"

"They are just jealous of you Tom," says the Young Lady in the audience.  She still cries. "You're wonderful, even when you lose.  People are saying things out of jealousy.  They'll be apologizing soon." 

"Wainwright,"  says Mr. Fairbanks. "These are high schoolers.  Would they act this way.  They seem to be very mature, very adult"

"They are special high schoolers, Mr. Fairbanks.  He has the chops to do just about anywhere he wants, and she's a cheerleader.  They are not shy about how they speak, or act, or how they feel, and they don't care who knows it.  They are the King and the Queen of Homecoming.  That's why there is only real characters up there."

Mr. Fairbanks taps his index finger over his lips and looks back at the stage. 

Young Lady in the audience, "No Tom, you're still the best.  One biology class. Don't feel bad.  UCLA's still good.  Maybe in a year you can try again for Stanford. It'll still be there. 

She dabs her eyes. "Maybe next year it'll be a rat you'll have to dissect.  This time you'll eat, sleep, live with rats, not mice or Guiana pigs, but rats, and you'll ace the test.  I know you will.  Then you can transfer to Stanford."  She wipes more tears from her eyes.  

"It's time to go home,"  says Gisele.

"I should have been better prepared," says Tom. "I should have gone back and checked out
the tests they gave in the past, better analyzed the professor, figured out what he thought was important.  It was the pressure, Gisele.  I aced most of the other tests this semester."

"Tom, stay in the moment," says Wainwright.

"You can do it Tom." say the Young Lady in the audience.

Mr. Fairbanks, taps his index finger.

Voice off stage: "It's all your fault Tom.  You came up short.  You know it."

Tom's knee buckles and he slides to the floor. He sits with his head down.

Gisele kneels beside him. She lifts his head. "Oh Tom, we'll be together.  This is only a set back. We will not let this get us down.  It's Stanford's loss. Oh Tom, we're together. This will all pass."

Tom gets to his feet.  "I've nailed lab tests in the past. But what happened today?" 

Together they walk off stage right.


Help comes from:

msn.Foxsports (Gisele)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Man in a Brooks Brothers suit calls from the baggage area. He holds a briefcase.

"Fresh Air Taxi."  He waves.  "Beverly Hills.  I have a meeting in ten minutes. You get me there?"

"Beverly Hills?  At this time in the morning?  You are going to be needing a time machine, pal."

"Just kidding, my friend.  I got an hour or so."

Lady stands in a Silk Blouse, tight jeans, and red Converse.  "Hey, small world.  I'm going to the same place."  She moves toward another taxi.

"Hey, ride with me.  We'll share."

She stops, smiles, and says.  "Doing our part to save gas?"  Then walks back.  "Why not? You have an honest face.  Every penny counts."

"That's the spirit."  He opens the door for her, while I put her bag in the trunk.

A lady with a Diamond Broach, bluish hair and black nurse shoes, stands by the curb.
She looks to her right, then left, then back right. 

Brooks Brothers says, "You look lost. Going anywhere near Beverly Hills, ride with us."

She blinks and says, "My chauffeur was supposed to be here. Claims he ran out of gas." 

She has no luggage, just a purse. "No telling when he'll arrive."

"You got shotgun. That okay?" he says. 

She looks at Silk Blouse in the back seat, then at Brooks Brothers, and nods. "Thanks. I can ride shotgun. I'll save money."  She looks right and then left again. "Fine." 

She climbs in the passenger side and sits.  She hugs her purse, and leans toward the window.

"Do not be at all nervous. I drive quite well," I say to her, to allay any fear. 

"I'm sure you do,"  she says.  She leans forward and reads my registration card, " Mr. Palermo Sicily,  I'm sure you do."  

I deftly negotiate the aggressive buses, cars, and accidental tourists, head out of LAX , onto La Cienega Blvd. 

I glance at Mr. Brooks Brothers in the rear view mirror. "Did you have the Giants, in the game?"

"Had the Patriots, but my money was already made. I increased my stock portfolio just prior to the Game."

Brooks Brothers looks at Silver Blouse.  "That's what I do. Corporate stock. I bought shares of Comcast, parent of NBC.  $250 million from Super Bowl commercials in one day, helps their bottom line.  Thirty second ad cost $3 and a half million."

"But, you know, the big buzz was the half time show." says Silver Blouse. "M.I.A. flipping the bird at everybody.  How uncool.

"She did it quickly to make sure it wasn't edited out  And when she said don't give me any shit, well, I hardly heard it."

"If she wanted to cause a controversy," says Brooks Brothers. "She did.  Puts her on the map. She's a more valuable commodity now."

Silver Blouse nods.  "Madonna knew the risk when she allowed her on stage. M.I.A.'s been freaky in the past.  I'm hearing more about the Half Time Show,  than about the Game."

Miss Broach turns in her seat and says, "We had the world's full attention, so we throw at them fireworks, dancers, lip-synchers and smoke.  It was certainly no Olympics Opening Ceremony, where hope and union between nations was the message. To get kids to watch, NBC hires a dubious Gangsta type to shock everybody."

I missed most of all that," says Brooks Brothers. "Did you know, this was the first year the Super Bowl was streamed live to mobile phones?  Bought some stock in Verizon.  They had the exclusive Super Bowl rights with the NFL.  Extra $10 to down load the app.  So buying a few shares made sense.  How could I lose?"

Silver Blouse nods at Brooks Brothers. "I'm a clothes designer, so I couldn't miss it.  In the past Half Time Shows have been rather drab.  But I think Madonna did well.  She was flashy, looked very professional, and wasn't afraid to get people up there that kids listen to.  She's 53, come on."

I say, "I think the key was the New York's strong defensive line, keeping Brady..."

"It was outrageous," says Miss Broach.  "We turn away from addressing real life problems here in America.  Instead they tell us, eat your Doritos, and watch this very expensive aging once super star, and be real shocked when some rapper flips us all the bird."

"That's a bit harsh, I think"  says the Silver Blouse. "Madonna's the only woman in the world who can look so regal, and not too ridiculous, clad like a Viking, while performing  off-balance one-legged yoga poses. She's still go it.  Come on, it's a Half Time Show, not the State of the Union."

"But ," says Brooks Brothers.  "What happens during half time? Guys are in the kitchen getting more beer.  My guys tell me almost 50 million cases of beer were sold, because of the game.  How could you not see that coming. I bought more shares in Budweiser, and Molson-Coors."

"You must have a very large portfolio?" says Silver Blouse, smiling up at him.

"You'd be surprised."  He looks down at Silver Blouse's tight jeans. "It gets a lot bigger around Super Bowl time. Doesn't take a rocket surgeon to make money.  I get excited when my portfolio grows."

Silver Blouse cocks her head, and rubs her knees.

I say, "There were some passes dropped by New England that could have..."

Miss Broach says, "Whole affair was a blasphemy."

"I think you mean an obscenity," says Brooks Brothers. "There's a difference.  You might even think it was profane, but that too is a little different.  Blasphemous is showing contempt for God, and while similar, profanity is a show of contempt.  I think you mean it was obscene." 

"What is obscene," says Miss Broach. "Is the money spent on the damn thing.  At least they hired the Indianapolis Children's Choir.  Those kids had some fun and a night out.  But what about the almost 30 percent of children in Indianapolis who live below the national poverty line."

Silver Blouse looks out the window.  "I was really young, but for me Madonna opened the door for me, talking about things that you wouldn't ever read in Cosmopolitan.  A young lady's sexuality was something no one wanted to really talk about.  Madonna was there for a lot of us."

Brooks Brother nudges Silver Blouse's thigh.  "Calavo, large avocado co-op. You know how much guacamole was eaten during the Super Bowl?"

"And you bought guacamole?" 

"You got it,  That's what I do. My portfolio is growing as we speak.  Matter of fact it's gotten bigger since I've been here in this cab."  He raises his eyebrows.  "That's a fact."

Miss Broach shakes her head.  "How many textbooks, teacher's salaries, art supplies can be bought with what was spent on 15 minutes of very questionable entertainment?  I've heard better karaoke."

I turn off George Burns Road, onto Gracie Allen Drive, and stop next to the Emergency.

Cedars Sinai." I say. 

Brooks Brothers says, "Well, this is my stop.  Hey, what are you doing later. Have lunch with me?" 

Silk Blouse, leans back in the seat.

"You have to eat,"  he says. "Come on, You'll be finished by noon."

"You're right. Okay, meet me in front of Macy's at noon.  And no food court.  Some place nice."

"Brooks Brothers gets out, then turns back.  "By the way, what's your name?"

"You show up, I'll tell you." says Silver Blouse.

He waves and walks toward sliding doors.

I drop Silver Blouse at the the Beverly Center.  We figure a third, she pays, I get her bag, and watch her stride away, spring in her red Converse.

I slide back behind the wheel. "How did I do, ma'am?" I say,

"Well, young man." says Miss Broach.  "My chauffeur has been a pain lately, missing connections, running out of gas, gum wrappers on the seat. You could pick me up at the airport?"

"Being CEO of Fresh Air Taxi, say the word. One of my taxi's will pick you up." 

"I'm in and out of L.A. all the time. I own a Jewelry store on Rodeo Drive.  I cater to rich people, but I don't have to like them. Most had rich parents, never had to fight for a dollar.  I don't need the money, anymore. I give most of it to needy people I meet."

I drop her off in the middle of Beverly Hills. She takes my card.  I wave.  She waves back.

And I sit there for a minute.

Wow.  Win $100 on the Super Bowl, learn how to create a large portfolio, and meet a lady that owns a Beverly Hills jewelry store.  All in one day.



*Help comes from:

Google, Wikipedia,
rt.com (Feb 6),
Winnipegfree Press,
Belfast Telegraph

Friday, February 3, 2012


Helena is a lady true to her word.

"I said I'd make you breakfast," she says.  "And well, walk me down.  You can help me open, and I'll make you something special." 

I asked last night if she would come up for coffee after the movie and well, here it is now,  5:30 am.

I live two floors above her restaurant, the Montana Galley. As a gentleman, I walk her down.

"What sounds good?"

"Surprise me." I say.  We open and I sit at my usual booth in the back.

Other early risers enter.

She brings coffee, and we sit.

"Remember, Super Bowl's Sunday." says Helena.  "I got the Giants.  Hope you haven't forgotten our bet?"

"Oh, I remember." I promised to be her slave for a day if I lost.
"I've made a list." says Helena.  She nudges me under the table with her foot.

"Okay," she says.  "I 'm trying something new for my breakfast menu.  You wanted surprise.   Hope you don't mind being my guinae pig. Got my best chef on it."

A Man leans over the booth.

"'ello Laddie.  Playing the odds on American Football, eh?"

"Just a friendly Super Bowl bet."

"Think I coo take some of that also?  I'm from Queens, so I like
the Giants.  I'm not a 'uge American Football fan, but I'd go for a wager.  l canee let
Boston take the prize."

I sit silently for a second.  This man, a visitor, might bring added oomph to our breakfast.

"Please," I say. "Come sit with us.  We'll talk about it."  Helena seems game.

"Sure, Laddie,"  says the Man, and slides into our booth.

I give him the same odds I give Helena last week, the odds Key West, my odds guy down near Hialeah, gives me:

Giants +3, Overs 55, $100 to win $115, and $120 to win $!00.

He takes Giants plus 3 for $500.  We shake.

"This is Helena, and I'm Brentwood.  You're not originally from around here, " I say, and sip my coffee.

"You think?" says Helena.

He smiles.  "Hail from Scaw'lun.  Names Glasgow.  Glasgow  Killbride.  I play rugby back 'ome. The Ednbrah Eagles, Rugby League."

"I see they're televising more Rugby here in America. I write a sports column for the Valley Post Picayune, so I know a wee bit about rugby."   Then I say, "Not to ruffle your feathers, but American Football is better." 

I look at Helena, and wink, then look over at Glasgow. 

He blinks.  "Well, Laddie, " he says.  "I don't know about that.  The TV rugby is Rugby Union.  Very slow, lots of stops, with a million rules,  That's why it's on the tele.  Plenty of stops for commercials  Rugby League is non-stop, less confusin' rules, and well, much more excitin.'

My surprise arrives.  I look down at a three inch waffle sandwich; peanut butter, jelly and a layer of lobster.

Helena has the waitress bring us another plate.  "Both of you, tell me what you think."

We taste.

"Wow, this is terrific,"  says Glasgow.

"Magnificent," I say. And it is.

"It's got lobster," says Helena.  "What's not to like?  Right?  Now you were saying."

"Yes," says Glasgow.  "Eton, Charterhouse, Westminster School. It's Rugby Union.  It's a right of passage. Nobody gets hurt, or exhausted.  It's very slow, but a young Prep school chap can say, "Oh yes sir-ee.  I played Rugby."

"The first time I saw a rugby on TV," I say, "This muddy player was saying into the camera,  'I found it,'  showing his tooth to the camera.  He had a large missing-tooth grin on this face. And, I'll confess, a twinkle in this eye."

"That's Rugby League," says Glasgow.  "Ya don-nee to be the fastest, or the strongest, or the widest, We accept you just the way you are.  There is always a position you can play, regardless of shape, size, and height."

"In football," I say, "We have the forward pass, so we score a lot quicker.  We have a lot more plays, too, so the defenses are more complex.  And an interception can quickly change the momentum of the game.  We're more exciting."

"So," says Glasgow. "Both sports are known for bone crushin' tackles. Can-nee argue with that.

But all those excitin' crashes and an “almost anythin' goes” attitude, gives us the win.  Watchin' a 150-pound lightweight hooker take down a 300-pound tighthead prop, without nerry a scratch, is a thin' of beauty.

"Makes sense," says Helena.

"Thought you were on my side?" I say, and elbow her shoulder. Then to Glasgow, "15 players?  I guess you need that many to carry players off on stretchers?"

"That's right. The game stops for no man. If you’re not springin' back up and shakin' it off  we only stop to roll you off the field and pull in a substitute."

"Okay," I say."Our football players don’t just tackle, we collide, so we need safety  Helmet, face mask, chin strap, mouth protector, shoulder, tailbone, hip, thigh and knee pads. We win by sheer volume."

"Rugby League, it's basically, trunks, shoes, and mouthpiece. Goes without sayin', rugby players are bad asses on the field.  American Football is clearly a girl's sport.

I breathe heavily. 

"So," says Helena. "Your Lob-Affle...probably not the most appetizing name...how is it?  A winner, right?"

We both wipe our plates with pieces of waffle.

"I take that as a yes.  Good. Now, what to name it?  A Lobster PJ?"

"Football has the Hail Mary. Statue of Liberty. Football is Spiritual. It's Patriotic.   Bootleg, Red Dog, Shotgun, Halfback Draw. It's like a Tom Mix Western." 

"Tom who?" says Helena.

"Well, how 'boot, Hooker. Scrum. Maul. Ruck. Flyhalf.  We have all the cool names."

"Flyhalf?" says Helena.

"It's a player's position like Flanker, Prop, or Lock. Sometimes they're called 'First-Five Eighth,'"

"Of course," says Helena. "Silly me."   Again a kick under the table.

Lady from another table, looks over, and waves.  "Sorry, but I can't resist,  I’ve dated football players and rugby players. A senior linebacker at USC.  A real creep, never called me back.  But this Winger for the Northampton Saints.  Wow, what a doll.  We got married after only two weeks."

"Was he a hooligan?" asked Glasgow.

"Sure was, in the best sense."   She points to the Lob-Affle.  "And can I get one of those.  Looks delish."

Helena waves to her and strides toward the kitchen. 

"Yes," says Glasgow.  "We are known as the “Hooligan Sport Played by Gentlemen”, but at the end expect a nice meal and a pint, provided by the hostin' team after every game.  All grievances end once you get off the pitch and into the clubhouse.

His hands are fists. "80 minutes of nonstop ruggedness, Everyone gaspin' at the tackles, everyone wowin' at the plays.  Hands down, Rugby takes home the trophy."

A voice from two tables over.  "Guys, the reason they wear that much padding because every hit is a collision.  Their bodies are weapons.  Football is more physically demanding because it is about bursts of speed and physical power.  Not just endurance like rugby."

Another voice.  "Not really. Rugby's a man's game. American football is played by guys who can't play rugby and think they're hard."

Another voice and another voice...

And the debate, not yet physical, continues as I take my leave.  My conclusion:  Watch Rugby League, then watch American Football.  You decide. 

 And I am off to write my sports column. I bid farewell to Glasgow, and set next Monday morning for the resolution of our wager.

At the door, I wave to Helena, and say, "Coffee later?"

She winks and says, "Just coffee, now."   But there's that impulsive smile of hers, definitely one that is not missing any teeth.

Help comes from:

Scotland Rugby League (scotlandrl.com)
BBC,CO,UK (Rugby Union)
Whoohoo.co.uk (Scottish translator)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Two ladies sit side by side on a Saturday morning.

"January?" says one, pointing.

"No," says the other.  "February 15th.  You must be about the same."

"Close. Doctor said March 3rd. 40 weeks."  She looks at a boy running down the aisle.  "Billings, stop running. You too, Bozeman."

She smiles.  "My husband's from Montana, if you hadn't guessed.  This your first?""

"Yes, it's a girl.  My husband wants to name her Hawthorne?  That's where he grew up, but I was brought up in New Jersey, near Elizabeth.  I think I like Elizabeth better."

She puts out her hand, "I'm Pat, actually it is Paterson.  Like I say, born in New Jersey."

"Wow, how weird, both of us named after cities?  I'm Edie, but my real name is Enid.  Yep, born in Oklahoma. Isn't that strange. I think my father really wanted a boy."

They both shake their heads, and smile.

Pat reads a magazine left by someone on the folding table. 

A Young Man careens in on a skate board, spots an empty washer, and stuffs in his clothes. He pushes hard, slams the door, and feeds quarters.

He sits and opens a folded magazine from his back pocket.  '.45 Caliber Handgunner' Magazine. 

Pat points to her magazine. "$20 million dollars and he won't let his wife have a penny?  Why would anybody do that?  Basketball player divorcing his wife.  Says he spent $20,000 on jewelry while his wife and five kids were $23,000 in the red?  Allen Iverson?"

Young Man peeks over the top of Handgunner.  "That was two years ago," he says. "What's the date on the magazine?  2010?  Yep, two years ago."

"$20 million is a lot of money." says Edie.

"She was a golddigger," says the Young Man.  "That's what my dad says. Guy's worth $20-$30 million. Iverson gave her everything she ever had. She whining about $20 grand."

"Says she gave up a career to marry him." says Pat. 

"Give me a break. She married him for the money. Golddigger."

There is silence

"Maybe." says Edie. "He really needed her when he had a bad game. Support when he got home. You never know.  Marriage is a two way street. They're not all golddiggers." 

"Kobe, he's the one who's getting divorced now. He got screwed out of $75 million.  His wife, what a snake, waits the ten years, big surprise, and divorces him so she can get more money."  

"What would I do with that much money?" says Pat.

She looks out the front window.

"I'd probably save it for the future, but $75 million, new car, pay off the Visa, see about a house maybe.  My husband would never have to work again."

"Give her five years," says the Young Man. "She'll be dead broke again, like she was when Kobe found her. That's what my dad says.  Five years she'll be begging the court for more. She doesn't know how to do anything.  Like getting a job." 

"$75 million," says Edie. "With two kids, well actually three, I don't think I could ever spend that much. I'd get a nanny, someone to clean the house, do this laundry, get these kids into private schools.  Free time, travel, do stuff.  I got married at 19, so there're things I'd like to do."

"Now that she has all this money," says the Young Man. "She'll find some other poor sucker, latch on, and suck him dry. That's what they all do."

Enid looks down at the magazine. "There has to be trust in a marriage. Road trips, she doesn't know what he's doing. I guess they're gone for weeks at a time."

"She's all alone too."  The Young Man laughs.  "What do they do? They go shopping, what else, and charge the poor guy into the ground. You're screwed once you let them have a credit card. That's what my dad says."

Edie breathes heavily, 

"Boseman," she says.  "Go check on the wash.  Is it done?"

"It's stopped."

"Okay, find a dryer.  Here's some quarters.  No whining.  Go."

Edie looks at the Young Man. "I'm no golddigger, but if I had to get a divorce, I'd do the best I could for my kids, and if that meant getting a lawyer, and sinking my claws into my husband, well then..."

"Maybe. " says Pat. "The team itself should teach these players, since they are making so much money, how to targets these golddiggers.  Maybe they have some responsibility to watch over them?"

"Kobe'd never go for that, somebody else telling him what to do with his money. You kidding."

"I could never do that to my husband," says Pat. "I'd certainly try to make it work.  Unless he did something really bad."

"Like cheat on you.  Kobe and that broad in Colorado."  The Young Man waves his hand.  "They told him to do something, for the fans, for his career, so he has to buys this huge diamond ring for her. He really got screwed,. That's what my dad says."

The boys come up. "Mom, can we get something at the 7-11. It's just right there."  He points. Edie pulls out a dollar, hesitates, then pulls out a five.  "Bring back the change, and no junk."

"Deon Sanders, he's another one on the chopping block. He's getting divorced too.  They'll probably screw him out of about $100 million.  He's gotta be worth a lot.

"And Michael Jordan, they got him for $450 million.  My dad says Kobe's one smart dude. Sure he got screwed, but $75 million?  He got off cheap.  He'll make that back in endorsements, easy.  We know he's got money stashed nobody knows about."

He laughs.

The two ladies look away from the Young Man.

"My husband's in construction," say Pat.

"My husband sells insurance, and is thinking about going to law school."

"Don't you worry about him being there at night, co-eds on campus? "

"Tiger is another." says the Young Man.  He flips through the magazine.  "I'm never getting married, unless, Dude, I got me an iron clad pre-nup."

"Pre-nup." says Pat. "They're only for people who have a ton of money." 

"Hey, I got a lot of valuable stuff."  He waves to another young man who stands at the front door. 

"Hold on, Dude," he says.  He lunges toward the washer, opens it, pulls the entire load out and stuffs it into an empty dryer.  He feeds quarters. "We got time."

The boys are back.  They hold Cokes.  "Here," says Billings. 

"That was fast."  Edie looks at it.  "All of it,  Mister."

"Oh, they must have short changed me?"

She looks stern.

"I need this money. For later." He twists. "Oh, all right, already."  He pulls out thirty cents more, pours it into her hand, and runs off toward their washing machine.  "It's stopped, " he yells. 

"Find another dryer," she says.  "Kids." and smiles. Her voice is loud. "Yeah, I'd do what it took to give my family the best I could.  My husband crossed the line. I'm no golddigger.  If I could get $75 million, that's what I'd do."

"The girls, they're waiting. Come on," says the young man at the front door.

"Five minutes, I'm there."  He sits back down, then,

"Charlotte's waiting for you, Dude."

The Young Man says, "Crap," darts back to the dryer, pulls out his wet load, stuffs it into a pillow case, and waves wildly as he rushes after the Metro leaving from the corner. 

"Wow,"  says Pat.

"That kids father must be a real piece of work." says Edie.

They both watch out the window as the Young Man chase after Charlotte.

Help comes from:  Wikipedia, USA Today, Sporting News, Euroweb.com, and TMZ.