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Wednesday, April 23, 2014




What is the dynamic that allows some people to act like giant dicks without repercussion, while others who are gentle and compassionate sometimes are held to a higher standard?

In the northeast, specifically the New York City area, we have many people who are abrasive, abrupt and seemingly self-centered.  I think it is a weather thing.  Survival in a cold over-populated climate requires a person to be a bit self-centered.

For instance if you live in a large family in a cold climate, you need to elbow your way to the fireplace for warmth, and fight for seconds at dinner.  Gentle compassionate family members go cold and hungry.  Other people in this climate understand this and aggressive people are accepted, they are the survivors, gentle, compassionate people are perceived to be weak.

People from warm weather island climates seem to have a gentle compassionate personality, perhaps because instead of racing around and fighting to stay warm, they are used to slowing down and setting a steady pace in order to keep from overheating.  Their culture does not need to fight for food; if they are hungry they just pluck fruit from a tree, or pull in a fish from the sea.  (Yes, I know this is loaded with ridiculous generalizations, just go with it OK.)

In another lifetime when I was expected earn an income; my place of work was in New York City, the epicenter of aggressive, abrupt, self-centered people.  (In actuality, when push comes to shove these people are the salt of the earth and will in fact show compassion, but in ordinary day to day affairs are in general as I describe them.)  One of the managers at my office, Frank, was from a warm weather island climate.  Frank was extremely competent, but was also easy going, gentle and compassionate.  He did not seem to have an angry bone in his body.  He never had a bad word to say about anyone.

One day, as part of his supervisory position, he was required to reprimand one of the clerical staff that reported to him.  This person made a minor error which cost the company maybe $50.  The firm but fair Frank said calmly and in the manner of instruction,

“Mary, you have to be careful when you see this situation, you probably should have asked my advice before you matched this trade.  Fortunately this error only cost $50, but it could have been quite significant.”

Keep in mind, a New Yorker manager may have handled it like this,

“Yo Mary, what the fuck, are youse stupid or what? You screw up like this one more time and you’re going to be standing in the unemployment line…capeesh?

And that disciplinary rant would have been accepted without comment.

How did Mary react to Frank’s gentle instruction?

“OK, I get it, you don’t have to yell!”

Frank turned to me somewhat startled and asked,

“Joe, was I yelling?”

I mulled it over for a bit before I responded,

I gotta say, Frank, for you that was yelling!”

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


A lot of my readers seem to like nostalgia posts.  Well that is not exactly true, but the ones who do like them always leave fun comments on stuff from their childhood, and I enjoy reading those comments.  I was thinking back to stuff we did “In the day” and I recalled Flashlight Tag.

Flashlight Tag wasn’t really tag; it was part tag and mostly hide-n-seek.  I think we only played it at around age 11 or 12, the year when parents gave us a little slack at night, and before girls started affecting strange emotions.

It was generally played with a fairly large group of kids, one with a flashlight, and six or eight hiding.  Everyone wore dark clothes, so hiding in the dark was pretty easy.  I think that is what made the game fun, hiding basically in the open and often only yards away from the flashlight seeker.

I think there was a home base involved, and counting and hiding.   If you were caught in the light and identified, you were it and the hiding started over again.   If you made it to home base you were safe, but I don’t believe there was any “Alli-alli-in-free” save. 

The funny thing about kids and games is years later when my own were around eleven or twelve I was asked if it was alright for them to play out after dark.   I asked what were they going to do outside at night and was told, “Flashlight Tag!”

Same name, same game, same rules.  I never told them of this game. I never mentioned rules or anything.  How was it still called the same thing.  It wasn’t called “Midnight Tag,” it wasn’t called “Night time hide-n-seek,” it wasn’t called “Dodge the Flashlight.”  It was still called “Flashlight Tag.” 

Was this game carried on from 12 year old to 11 year old, year after year for 30 years, or are 12 year olds so similar that they naturally invent the same game and call it the same name?

Whatever, this game is probably not played today.  Apparently it is not safe for 12 year olds to be out at night, and electronic toys have probably made our old games obsolete.

Computers and modern electronics are really cool.

So was Flashlight Tag.  

Monday, April 21, 2014

PHONE-A-FRIEND - a cranky rerun

 I recently had an idea for a post involving a superman question, then I realized I had already written one so instead of doing it over differently this cranky re-run is from May 2013

I used to like the TV quiz show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” until they changed the format.  The old format gave a contestant who didn’t know an answer the opportunity to “Phone-a-friend” to get help.  I always said my phone-a-friend would be my friend “Frog.”

Frog (named as he once wore glasses reminiscent of “Froggy” in the “Little Rascal Comedies”) is my friend all the way back to high school and he is an expert in everything, especially history where he has a Doctorate (almost) in American History.  I guess I should call him Doctor Frog.  Anyway, the only problem with Dr. Frog as my phone-a-friend is his tendency to ramble on with facts not requested.  I have a recurring nightmare where I am a contestant on the old format of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.”

“OK Cranky, you are down to your final question worth ONE MILLION DOLLARS.  Ready?

“I’m ready Regis.”

“Here it is…”

What is the name of the Master Sergeant in the Civil War who before the battle of Squeak Falls said, “Five minutes till hell boys, smok’em if you gott’em.”

A.   Fred "Fast Freddie" James

B.   Martin "Fruitboots" Kurtika

C.    Roy "Catfish" Miller

D.   Gilbert "Bud" Shill

“That is a tough one Regis; I’d like to ask a friend.  I’d like to call Dr. Frog.”

“OK sure, we'll call Doctor…Frog?  Does he know history?”

“If he doesn’t know the answer, the answer doesn’t exist!”

“All right then we’re calling Doctor Frog…Hello is this Doctor Frog?”


“This is Regis of the Millionaire Show.  We have a friend of yours, a Mister Cranky, he is going for ONE MILLION DOLLARS and he needs your help.”

“OK, sure…go ahead.”

“You have one minute.  Here is the question”:

What is the name of the Master Sergeant in the Civil War who before the battle of Squeak Falls said, “Five minutes till hell boys, smok’em if you gott’em.”

A.   Fred "Fast Freddie" James

B.   Martin "Fruitboots" Kurtika

C.    Roy "Catfish" Miller"

D.   Gilbert "Bud" Shill

“That is an easy one Regis; it just happens that in 1974 I wrote a thesis on that very person.”

“Forty-five seconds.”

“Yes; the battle of Squeak Falls was very important.”

“Thirty seconds.”

“If the South won that battle, they would secure their supply lines for…”

“Twenty seconds Doctor Frog,”

“As I was saying, they would secure very important supply lines for their march toward…”

“Ten seconds.”

“Ten seconds?”

“Five now.”

“OK then, the answer is…”

“Oh, I’m sorry, time is up.  We had to hang up on Doctor Frog.  Do you have a guess Mr. Cranky?”

“Yes Regis, I’m going to guess that I will have to friggin kill Doctor Frog!!”

I always wake up in a cold sweat.


Actually, I was once the phone-a-friend for Frog.

Frog had an argument with his then girl friend, now wife, Hilary.  At 2 AM one morning I received a call from Frog,

“Jowles*, I need you to settle an argument.  I’m here with Hilary…”

“Hi Hilary, glad to finally meet you.”

“Never mind that, here is the question.  When Superman changes into his Superman outfit where does he put his civilian clothes?”

“That’s easy; he has a pocket in his cape!”

THANK YOU!.…I told you so Hil! Gotta go Jowles, thanks!”


And THAT, Doctor Frog, is how a phone-a-friend answers a question!

*Old knick name…long story.