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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
What, you ask, does a cranky old man do on New Years Eve?  You didn’t ask?  Well I’ve got nothing else to post about, so I will tell you anyway.

This cranky old man does exactly what he did on most New Year’s Eves as a cranky young man.  Zippity Doo Da!
Mrs. Cranky and I will have Chinese take-out and watch football and assorted junk on TV.  We will watch the ball drop, say Whoop-Te-Do, kiss, and then change the channel from “Rocking New Years Eve” to the “Ladies Killing Husbands” station on our channel 171.
I don’t hate NYE, I hate the idea that NYE is supposed to be a big party and the most fun night of the year. 
You cannot force fun.
Back in the days when I generally drank myself into a controlled stupor every night, I considered NYE as amateur night.  Parties would be filled with idiots who felt they had to get plastered this one night of the year.
I hate once a-year-drunks.  People who haven’t been bombed often enough to know that they are not entertaining, funny or cute.  They repeat themselves, sweat, mumble, giggle and are very annoying.  They sing, dance and grab you to have you dance with them.  They are just obnoxious. 
NYE parties are so loud you cannot hear yourself think, and everyone expects to have the best time of their life.  I never once enjoyed a big NYE party.  If I am expected to have a good time, I seldom do.
I guess I have never liked any big noisy crowds.  If I had to celebrate, I would probably enjoy a quiet bar with quiet drunks who know how to control their inebriation.  Watch TV, have a drink, explain how corporations are controlling the world, have a drink, explain how big Pharm could eradicate all diseases except there is no money in that, have a drink, bitch about the Giants offensive line, have a drink, count down from 10 to “Happy New Year”, call a cab and go home.
Well Mrs. C has maybe three Kahlua and milk drinks a year, so it will be stay at home again for me, and that is just fine.  It is just another night, no special reason to have fun and make noise.
Life is good at the Cranky home every night.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Can Johnny Come out and Play?

Can Johnny Come out and Play?

Not that Johnny!
“Can Johnny come out and play?” If you are over 40, you know this question.  Kids used to go to their friend’s home whether across the street or blocks away, knock on the door and when the mom opened the door, little Billy would ask, “Can Johnny come out and play?”

He would then either be told, “Johnny has to go to confession” or “Johnny has to finish his homework” or “Johnny is being punished, maybe tomorrow.” In which case Billy would go to another friends house and ask the same question.


Mom would yell, “Johnny, Billy is here” and the two friends would find something to do without any adult supervision until the sun went down.

I’m not sure when or why this tradition went away.  Maybe as both parents worked, children were never home.  They were at Grandma’s or had some arranged, organized after-school activity. 

Of course, today, cell phones would eliminate the house visit.  Maybe kids just chat and text instead of playing.  My youngest just missed the “everyone has a cell phone” era.

We never arranged “play dates” for my first three children.  Mostly we just asked them where they were going and told them when to be home.

My youngest, who now is months away from graduating from college, was in the “play date” generation.  He had soccer, basketball or flag football practice, or he had guitar lessons, or he had stupid amounts of homework after school.  Sometimes there were arranged “play dates” but I think they were more for the moms to get together and share a bottle of wine.

Summers for this “play date” generation friends scattered with the wind.  They had summer homes, or summer camps, or clubs to go to…no one it seemed was ever actually home.

One summer, when Spencer was nine, he was moping around “Bored!” I think he was expecting me to start making calls and find a “play date.” I told him, “Why don’t you go across the street and see if Little John wants to play.”

Little John was a year younger than Spencer, but they played several sports together.  We called him Little John because his neighbor was an ex-professional basketball player (European Leagues) who was 6’8” also John, hence Big John.

Anyway, Spencer looked at me like I had two heads.

“What, just go over and ring the bell?”

“Yes, it used to be done all the time.”

He must have been really bored because he did just that; went across the street and rang the bell.

Little John was home.  They, swam, Little John had a pool, and or played ball the rest of the day.  I was somewhat concerned that LJ’s mom would be upset that we didn’t call and make a “play date”, instead she said Spencer coming over was great.  Little John was starting to get on her nerves with his “Boredom.”

That summer the two played often, without a parent making arrangements for a “play date.”

Its how it always used to be, the way it should be, the way it will probably never be again.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Hang On Snoopy

Hang On Snoopy

River, that blogger from down-under who often serves as my spelling editor, had a recent post about traditions.  It prompted this old memory.

Years ago, my mom was gifted a rubber squeaky toy “Snoopy”.  You know, that cartoon pet of Charlie Brown, and the fighter pilot who took down the Red Baron in his puppy dreams.

Anyway, this toy was a semi-joke from I-don't-remember-who, as my mom enjoyed the “Peanuts” cartoon and Snoopy in particular.

She kept the Snoopy toy on her bedroom dresser.  For some reason, one day I decided to hide Snoopy.

“Has anyone seen Snoopy. He has gone away?”

“No idea mom.”

“Hey, what is Snoopy doing in the refrigerator?”

“Gee mom, I guess he was hungry.”

All through High School, maybe once a month I would hide Snoopy.

Mom would never say anything other than,

“Snoopy was in the closet this morning, I guess he wandered around and got locked in.”

“Guess so mom, he does that a lot.”

We had our own silly game.

Years later when ever I came home from college, I would always make sure to hide Snoopy before I went back to school. 

Mom would find Snoopy in a cabinet, or on the toilet seat, anywhere she could find him with minimal effort.  It was a silly game we continued to play every time I visited, even when I was well into my thirties…maybe longer.

I don’t know what happened to that silly pup, she had him for years.  So long that he lost his squeak and his black nose was turning white.

Just a silly tradition.

My son, child number three, ever the enterprising entrepreneur, once suggested after hearing of this game,

“You could make that tradition into a business.  Hiding a toy during Christmas for the children to find everyday could go viral.  Pretty soon everyone would have to have that toy as everyone’s children would expect to play the game all during the Christmas Season.  Maybe make it a Christmas related toy…like an Elf!”
Pooch on the Loose?

Of course, I laughed at him.  Kids! What a stupid idea.  

After the Blog Post : I just got a note from my Sister (in-law) that she still has Snoopy and sent a picture to prove it

Original is on the right

I told her the next time I visit, I am hiding him!

Thursday, December 26, 2019


Still time off from originals, this is one of the very earliest Cranky Old Man posts; May 2011.
It seems to me that every friggin celebrity is writing or has published a children’s book.   Madonna published a children’s book, ex-Princess Fergy has published several.  Other celebrity children’s books have been written by: Cal Ripkin Jr., Barack Obama, Al Yankovic, Carly Simon, Julie Andrews, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Jeff Foxworthy, and I could go on and on.  I often hear talk-show starlets announcing they are writing a children’s book.  Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap.  These geniuses are so talented.  They sing, dance, act, paint, and if things are slow they slap together a children’s book.  These books always have a wonderful message which is destined to change the world!  Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap.  
I have two problems with this.  Number one, does anyone really buy these books?  Number two, do we even need any more children’s books?  We have Dr. Seuss books, Richard Scary books, Little Toot, The Little Engine That Could, Wacky Wednesday, Go Dog Go, Where The Wild Things Are, Are You My Mother, The Purple Crayon, and other classics; do we need any more?  Two and three year-olds can go months and be very happy with just one of these classics.  By the time they can read themselves they still have not experienced all the great children’s books that have already been published.
It seems to me that people keep writing these books because they are so easy to write and everyone is impressed that they are writing a book!
OK, I will try it myself.  Here is a children’s story with a life lesson every child needs to learn.
Little Bobby lived on a farm far away from the nearest neighbor.  He was four years old.  He lived with his father, his mother and his older brother, Ben.  Bobby had no friends.  Little Bobby was very lonely.
One day Bobby’s Daddy came home with a wiggly bundle in a blanket.  When he saw what was wiggling in the blanket, Bobby squealed with delight.  Daddy had brought home the cutest, pinkest, funniest little piglet that Bobby had ever seen.  
“Can I keep him Daddy?  Can I, Can I?”  Bobby asked.  
“Sure you can.”  Daddy said.  “He is yours to play with, yours to clean up after, and yours to feed.”  
“Oh thank you,” Bobby said. “I am going to name him Oinky.”
Oinky was the best friend, the only friend, that little Bobby ever had.  
“Oh, Oinky”, Bobby said, “You are so smart, so cute.  Oinky I love you!”  
Oinky just snorted a cute little snort and nuzzled Bobby under the chin.
For the next year, wherever Bobby went, Oinky followed.  Bobby did his chores.  Oinky was with him.  Bobby went to the swimming hole.  Oinky was with him.  Bobby went fishing.  Oinky was right there.  When Bobby went to bed, Oinky slept right next to his bed.  
“Oh, Oinky”, Bobby said, “You are so smart, so cute.  Oinky I love you!”  
As the year went on, and Bobby fed Oinky, the little piglet grew into a pig.  Oinky grew into a big pig.  Daddy came to Bobby and said,
“Bobby, I know you love Oinky, but he is getting so big.  He is too big to be a little boy’s pet.”  
“But Daddy,” Bobby pleaded, “I love Oinky.”  
Daddy just replied, “I know you do Bobby….but….well, you know!”  
And Bobby did know.  Bobby was a farm boy.  Bobby was very sad.
That night while everyone was asleep, Oinky smelled smoke.  Smoke was coming out of a shorted out wall socket.  Oinky grunted and grunted until Bobby woke up.  Bobby smelled the smoke and ran to his Daddy. 
“Smoke Daddy!  Oinky smelled it and woke me up; there is a fire!” 
Bobby’s Dad grabbed an extinguisher and ran to where Bobby and Oinky had spotted the fire.  He quickly put out the fire. 
“Well Oinky, I guess we all owe our farm and our lives to you.  Your smelling and your grunting has saved the day!”
“Oh, Oinky”, Bobby said, “Oinky, I love you!”
The next night at dinner, Bobby’s Dad said grace.
“Lord, thank you for this family, this farm, and thank you for sending Oinky, who saved us from fire.  Lord, we also thank you for this fine celebratory meal which we are about to enjoy.  Amen.” 
As Daddy carved out slices of flavorful roast pork Bobby exclaimed,
“Mmmm, Oh Oinky, now we are ALL going to LOVE you!”
Damn, what is so hard about writing a children’s book?


Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas EVERYONE!

It’s The Best Celebration Ever

I'm taking off from blogging for CHristmas, so I will post some CHristmas re-runs instead.  Regardless of my "Humbug" post, I do love Christmas.  

Merry Christmas to all! 

I agree it is over commercialized and the religious significance of the day is often lost, but hands down, Christmas is the best Holiday Celebration ever!

Jews have their gift giving during Chanukah, and they have some really great feasts, but do they have a celebration to equal Christmas?

Chinese New Year’s has colors, costumes, and fireworks galore.  It looks like fun, but it is not Christmas.

I am clearly not an expert in other customs and celebrations, but it seems to me that most involve sacrifice.  I see a lot of fasting, staying inside, beating yourself with chains and other stuff.  Sacrifice is fine, I imagine God appreciates the sentiment, but there is no other holiday like Christmas. 

What other holiday has children counting down the days for a month?  What other holiday covers homes and streets with bright flickering lights?  What other holiday just makes people feel good, has them smiling, and has strangers speaking to strangers? What other holiday has the traditions: Santa, reindeer, decorating a tree, mistletoe, stockings, elves, cookies, candy canes, a huge dinner and GIVING AND RECEIVING PRESENTS?

Christmas brings families together like no other holiday, plus,


I understand that Christmas is a Christian holiday, but it is such a good time, such a great celebration, so much fun, I think everyone should celebrate the season.

You don’t believe in Jesus?  Fine, but you gotta like lights, and peace and love and GIVING AND RECEIVING PRESENTS!

You don’t accept Christ?  You don’t worship any higher power? Fine, but everyone can celebrate the ideals of Christ. Who wouldn’t celebrate the idea of peace and love and goodwill toward men?  Do unto others is a sound aspiration regardless of if or how you worship.

So I say to everyone, Jew, Muslim, Hindi, Atheist…whatever, join in the celebration, do not be left out, it is the most wonderful time of the year, it is the best celebration ever, and YOU GIVE AND GET PRESENTS!!

To me “Merry Christmas” represents more than the birth of Christ, it represents all that Christ stands for to Christians, ideals that do not conflict with any religious teachings I’ve ever heard of, ideals that all people could get behind and thus Christmas can be for everyone.

You don’t have to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  

You don’t have to be Mexican to enjoy a Cinco de Mayo drink or three. 

Why do you have to be Christian to enjoy Christmas?

So please, if you are not Christian, do not be offended when I wish you Merry Christmas, you don’t have to be Christian to enjoy Christmas!

Merry Christmas EVERYONE!

Monday, December 23, 2019



I'm taking off from blogging for CHristmas, so I will post some CHristmas re-runs instead.  Regardless of my "Humbug" post, I do love Christmas.  

Merry Christmas to all! 

When I was seven years old I received the best Christmas present ever.  I had recently learned how to ride a bike, but I did not have my own.  My brothers’ bikes were too big and I was not allowed to ride them off of my block.  I desperately wanted a new bike.  I wanted my own bike, a bike that was the right size and a bike that would give me freedom, at least as much freedom as a seven year old could be allowed.  In 1953, in southern California, a seven year old was given a surprising amount of freedom to roam… “Just be home before dark!”

That Christmas I ran down the stairs to find a 24” green Schwinn wrapped with a single red bow on the handlebar.  I was beside myself with glee.  It was the best present ever.

Many, many years later, I had the opportunity to pass the joy along.  I don’t remember giving any of my first brood a bike for Christmas, they probably got garage sale bargains, but for Spencer, my son born of wife #2, I had the means to purchase a brand new bike for his seventh Christmas.

Just the anticipation of the look on his face, his squeal of excitement when he would first see this bike, gave me the same warm glow as I had those many years ago when I was on the receiving end of my own Christmas Bike.

On Christmas Eve, while wife and son were asleep, I prepared the Christmas morning magic.  To the already decorated tree I added candy canes, a clear sign that Santa had been to our home.  I stuffed the stockings, another clue that the jolly elf had arrived, and I ate the cookies and drank the milk which had been left to nourish the man in red.  My last act was to distribute additional presents under the tree and for the coup de grace,  I hauled out Spencer’s new red bike from the shed and left it where it would be the first thing he saw from the stairs on Christmas morning.  A bow on the handlebars set the scene for a moment that my son would remember forever, a vivid memory the same as my own.

I was as excited to see his face when he saw that bike as I was when I found my own bike those many years ago.

Christmas morning came, and Spencer ran down the stairs.

“Candy canes, Santa was here!  The stockings are full; they were empty when I went to bed!  Look, he ate the cookies we left!”

“And what else do you see Spence?”

“Ah…lots of presents under the tree.”

“Yes, but anything special?”

“The bike?”

“YES!! The bike!”

“Yeah, it’s nice…can I empty my stocking now?”

I was taken aback by his lack of enthusiasm for a new bike.  When I was seven it was the greatest gift ever.  For Spencer it was “oh yeah, a bike.”

I tried to hide my disappointment.  Why the difference.  Were children today so spoiled?  Then it hit me.  Sixty years earlier, my bike cost $95.  That was a sum of huge proportions for a seven year old in 1953.  The bike I bought Spencer cost $75.  It was as good as or better than my old bike, but the cost was the equivalent to a basketball in my day.

Nice, but no big deal.

Furthermore, my bike allowed me to travel around the block and even to several blocks over.  Spencer’s new bike allowed him to ride around in circles in the parking lot behind our house.  He was capable of riding it further, but children in his generation are not allowed the freedom that I had.  Traffic considerations and stories of child-napping have stripped this generation of the innocence that was the joy of mine.

It was still a good Christmas.  My son was not disappointed.  He got most of the stuff he wanted.  I was the only one that missed out.  I missed out on the look of glee that only a seven year old can have when he gets a new bike for Christmas. 

That look of glee now comes with the unwrapping of a new i-pad, or an X-box. 

It is still a good look, but nothing could ever be the same as it was with a new Schwinn to a seven year old in the 1953.