Thursday, October 23, 2014

The King of Halloween

I can’t believe time passes so quickly. It’s not only my son’s birthday, it’s almost time for the beginning of another season that’s rapidly approaching.

No I am not speaking of Christmas, there is a much bigger picture to behold.

Halloween is on the horizon, and eating season begins, that food minefield where you must navigate through Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years’, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s &  Easter and leaving you in complete denial when you pass a full length mirror, if you dare to sneak a peek.

You are reminded that you should not have curbed that exercise bike with an attached “Free” sign because you’re going to need it again, real soon.

We once owned a top quality exercise bike. It was strategically placed in our family room, directly in front of the television to help pass the time as our fitness commitment was in full swing.

A few years’ later, when we finally kicked it to the curb, the odometer read “5.3 miles” (5.1 miles were the result of efforts by our son and daughter).

It was sorely missed as the extra wide seat was ideal to hold a pizza box, and the handlebars were made to hang the ironing.

I’ve always hated Halloween, I have been scarred for life from an early childhood trauma.

The spooky costumes, ghost, goblins, zombies and assorted dead-walking were never the issue; it was the taunting during those formative pre-teen years from so-called friends that caused me to flee from the high-fructose overload event.

I always fantasized wearing a realistic Batman costume. Nothing but the ultimate true-to-life would do. I would never wish to dishonor a childhood hero with a cheap store-bought knock off.

I tried to manufacture my own using a black hoodie, a purple eye mask, orange swim trunks and a bat- belt made from a WW II Army ammo belt with an attached canteen and a Wham-0 boomerang.

I knew that wouldn’t work.

That year I had to settle on a quickly put-together Organ-Grinder outfit. I actually just looked like an 11- year- old mustachioed dork holding a cigar box with a crank-handle and a sock monkey.

I vowed that the following year if I could not be Batman I would be something really cool.

Just around the corner Luke and Mary, a newly-wed young couple lived.

They were kind of hip, all the kids could relate to them, and Luke spent a lot of time turning his row home into the scariest place to visit on all hollows eve.

That year Luke had found in one of his Monster magazines instructions on how to apply realistic make up just like it is done by artists in Hollywood.

He decided on the Wolfman and would strategically place himself perched on the first branch of a large oak tree outside his house, ready to hop down and scare the innards out of the approaching porch beggars.

I watched from afar as he successfully frightened all who approached, a good time for everyone.

I asked Luke if he would do the same for me the following Halloween and he agreed.

The following year Luke, true to his word, did a fantastic job and each homeowner visited was equally impressed with Luke’s professional application.

I felt like the King of Halloween.

I was going to attend an event a few nights later and it was a costume party so I knew just what I was going to wear to impress these school friends who had not seen my performance from a few nights ago.

I bragged to all just how great I looked. It was also a boy-girl gathering and I had my radar set on a particular cutie I wanted to get to know.

The only problem was that Luke was not available but he loaned me his instruction manual and the materials needed to complete the task.

Rome was not built in a day, the Panama Canal took 33 years to complete, and a successful application of spirit gum, fake hair and grease paint to complete a realistic werewolf should have been given a little more time than a quick rush home from a Friday school day and be expected to appear professionally monster coiffed in less than 2 hours.

I couldn’t even find my fake fangs and had to wear a pair of waxed lips that were bucked-toothed in the front.

Hair hung in patches on my face and hands. Spirit gum was like a magnet picking up clumps of tissue and assorted trash which connected to my hands.  Strands of glue gave an appearance of cobwebs between my fingers and to top it off my teeth were bucked, not fanged.

I looked like a weird scary demented chipmunk.

The door opened and the mocking and finger-pointing was incessant. I slinked out of there with my bushy tail between my legs.

In retrospect I should have gone as the Organ Grinder.

All future Halloween’s were spent cutting two holes in Flintstone bed sheets, costume’s be damned.

I still often fantasize about my missed Batman opportunity and swear one day to don the cape and cowl.

I just need to find orange swim trunks that fit.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The handwriting is on the wall!

We had a group photo taken at my local pharmacy. The store employees and all customers in attendance were invited to partake in the festivities.

We were celebrating a milestone in the life of my personal physician, Dr. Larry, who finally signed scrip that any pharmacist could decipher.

Larry is a wonderful physician, young, personable, competent but his abysmal penmanship skills are legendary throughout drug emporiums in the 5 county area. If the stereotype of poor writing skills among physicians is factual, then I am proud to say that Dr. Larry must have graduated at the very top of his class.

Larry once confused my pharmacy so badly that I arrived home from a purchase, opened the bag and found I was given a “Hello Kitty” Pez dispenser.


We could use his skills during wartime for secret coding as it would trump even the Navajo Code Talkers of World War 2.

I had an appointment this past week and was surprised to find the Doc had hired on a nurse who was completing her training as a Physician’s Assistant and was following along on each of his appointments.

When the time came for the scrip, the PA dutifully filled out the form and handed it to me, gasping as I was finally able to gaze upon a piece of paper that one would believe was created by a classically trained calligrapher.

It took me 20 minutes to finally convince Carl, the Pharmacist, that I had not illegally obtained Dr. Larry’s pre-signed prescription pad and was going rogue in pill acquisitions.   

They all took out their cell phones and snapped photos with the enthusiasm of a tourist spotting a monster on Lock Ness.

The paper was framed and rests proudly atop Carl’s giant pharmacists perch.

I couldn't admit the Assistant actually wrote out Dr. L's instructions.

Bad physician jokes aside, I recently read that schools are choosing to discontinue cursive handwriting; it’s being banished from the public education sector and shown the exit sign quicker than God was booted out.

I cannot criticize as I fail to understand my own scribblings, and I studied the Palmer method at St. Attica’s under the tutelage of Sister Ernest Borgnine, the one and the same whose samurai yardstick- wielding skills cured my own father of his natural southpawedness (the Devil’s hand) turning him into an ambidextrous and acceptable unto the eyes of the Lord.

Available time and limited resources are the reasons given that now allow keyboards and texting to become the mainstay substitute replacement. The former three “R’s” now become two “R’s” and a tweet.

I often wonder if in the future any remnants of classical education will be necessary when America moves into a new era with a greater need for competent drone pilots, security camera operators and boarder fence guards.

We need doers, not thinkers!

Grandgirl number 1 is a second grader who has been exposed to the laptop but studies cursive handwriting along with Latin, Egyptian hieroglyphics and the use of an abacus.

I guess her future is carved in rock, relegated to pyramid and obelisk building.

Maybe she can assist in construction of the boarder-fence.

We will need those walls to “keep all those undesirables out”.

And when completed the fences can also keep us in.

At one time didn’t some of our ancestors have to climb a few walls to get here?


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

If at 1st you don't succeed, give up?

About 3 years ago I thought a good idea would be to have some fun with my own Podcast.
Two years to the day I launched my 1st Podcast, then tore it down as it was truly the worst broadcast on any airways.

My voice did not belong roaming around in the universe.

Aliens even emailed requesting I pull the plug on I did.

I am not about to screw around with them.

After deciding to maybe read a little about podcasting I now made another venture into broadcasting, even if the only audience for the moment is Mrs. Jaygerardtoday and yours truly.

I met my goal to finally upload my maiden voyage into airwaves.

It is only a short little program, about 11 minutes, but I wanted to give it a try.

I plan on a weekly (Saturday) program.

 The pilot show sucks, but not as badly as its prototype of 2012.

You can find it in the upper left corner of this page.

You will get to hear a nice piece of theme music and will know how to spell my name and how to reach me.

Have a good night.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Necco Wafers and Rice Krispies

Monthly I visit a local pharmacy and upon entry you are hit with the “theme of the month” display.
Of course September means "back-to-school" items are prominent.

Does this sound unusual to you?

This is a little small town drug-store, somewhat dated décor, with the feel of a former era of prescription fillers.
No longer available is the old time lunch counter and lacking are large well-lit aisles bursting with groceries, hardware, automotive supplies and “as-seen-on-TV” gift items found at larger chain competitors.

The super pharmacies have long ago packed away their back-to-school goods and have moved on to selling Thanksgiving turkey deep fryers, cans of pumpkin and cranberry sauce along with the get ready for winter snow salt and shovels. 

Christmas displays are currently under construction.

By the time Halloween arrives next month you’ll be able to begin purchasing your Valentine’s Day cards.

If you plan to hand out Halloween candy you would have had to purchase your Snickers and Reese’s in June.

When Halloween arrived I was not one of those kids that planned their costume for weeks in advance. I was simply one of the candy opportunists who, at the last minute, cut two holes in a Flintstones bed sheet, grabbed a grocery bag and began hopping porch to porch; one of the few benefits of living in a city row house.

You could start early, clean up quickly and be home before all those “creative costumer's” could navigate their first set of steps wearing their bulky handcrafted Rice Krispies cereal refrigerator box.

Those kids had to waddle the neighborhood at such a slow pace they would be left with the unwanted scraps; Necco Wafers, Granny Smith apples and maybe a handful of pennies as the residents ran out of handouts quickly with all those neighborhood candy glutton porch-jumpers.

The real greedy ones would turn the bed sheets inside out and begin again.

You eventually learned that returning home too quickly was also avoided. Parents always wanted to inspect your booty for what they called “your own good”.

One could always tell they feigned searching for needles, razor blades and narcotics that somehow were always discovered in the Snicker’s, Reese’s and Three Musketeers bars, confiscated, leaving you with Necco Wafers, suspicious Granny Smith apples and a handful of pennies.

Somehow a portion of the confiscated goods were saved for a late arriving cousin wearing a Rice Krispy refrigerator box.

Mom and Dad somehow always had a suspicious ring of milk chocolate around their mouths.

You learned to find a place to bury your fortune away from neighborhood treasure hunters, squirrels and siblings.

These days we don’t do Halloween, and haven’t for many years. 

By 4PM every all hollows eve we scamper outta Dodge to an early dinner and Christmas shopping, sans the crowds.

We do find gifts even though we navigate around Valentine’s Day cards and Whitman’s heart shaped chocolates.

I learn from neighborhood gossip just how active the night became. The city porch jumpers of a bygone era have become better organized and now transport busloads of candy gluttons to the suburbs in mini-vans and double decker tour buses similar to those found in London and Philly Tours.

Mrs. Jaygerardtoday and I usually lie in wait until we are certain the last vestiges of weeners have gone off in search of greater fortunes in other hoods.

We slink into our Lay-Z-Boys and relax, usually satisfied we beat both crowds that evening.

It is, however, inevitable that at some point a knock on the door is heard only to find some kid in a Rice Krispies box standing there with his booty bag opened for a handout.

It’s a good thing we picked up a pack of Necco wafers while we were out.

Some of my childhood memories of Ghosts and monsters were blogged here in 2013.
If you have time read this oldie.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Third Time's the Video

If at first you don’t succeed, try 2 more times.

We have all heard the old adage” third time’s the charm”.

The reasoning is that after 2 tries you are most likely to be successful on the third attempt.

Someone should have told that to Thomas Edison, who it is said made 1000 attempts to invent the light bulb.

Recently I had switched Cable/Phone/Internet providers as I often do every few years when my agreement has run its course and the competitor dangles a carrot too hard to resist.

I had heard all about the marvels of “fiber-optics”, its speed and efficiency, so the switch from that old dinosaur Comcast to Verizon’s FIOS would eventually be inevitable as new technology is often hard for me to resist

I had given Comcast 3 tries to maintain the current arrangement and when they refused Verizon was more than happy to not only match the price; they included TV, 3 complimentary months of 43 HBO channels, 33 Cinemax stations, free installation and a $300 gift card.

I asked for a large Sicilian pizza but they told me I was pushing it too far.

Installation went smoothly, holes drilled into the home without striking something or someone unknown, and quickly I was handed a remote with about 30 more buttons than I would ever use.

The hard part is trying to find the 6 or 7 buttons that are my must-haves.

No sooner had the technician vamoosed that I discovered I was beginning to have a problem changing channels.

My first instinct had me check to see if the batteries were installed correctly. 

I assumed they were defective so I put on some pants and drove to BJ’s for a crate-load of double A’s

Upon my return, and the remote newly reloaded, I settled in to do some serious channel surfing only to find another surprise; the channels still would not change.

In a little over 1 hour since my new system was installed I was about to embark on my 1st service call.

Too late to have the tech return with another remote, I was assured the replacement would be on my doorstep the following day, and it was.

Some people like the engineering and designing of automobiles, others restoring and repairing.  I am one who just enjoys driving them, some interest in the former but I can handle anything that can be driven.

The same is true with most technology. I can usually find my way around the tech maze, and I am smart enough to carry on conversation with the bestest of geek-gods without appearing totally lost in the woods, but operating the controls is what I find most favorable.


After I have convinced customer service that the new remote is probably not the issue, and that fresh batteries had been installed correctly, and possibly the set top box may be the culprit, I was assured the replacement would be on my doorstep the following day, and it was.

Box numero dos started flawlessly, and without incident for about 4 weeks, then it happened again.

Requesting a personal technician without charge was not happening so replacement box 3 was assured to be on my doorstep the following day, and it was.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

                                                                                                                      Albert Einstein

The third time is actually the charm.  No, the channels still did not change but I was assured a free of charge technician would be on my doorstep the following day, and he was.

Eventually the technician, his supervisor and I were able to determine the issue was not with Verizon technology, it was a picture setting on my Vizio TV interfering with the infrared signal, and not the central air conditioning flow, spider webs and the granddaughters’ remote control Stuart Little Car all insisted upon by Mrs. Jaygerardtoday.

I tell this little story because I wait for another “third-time charm” event to unfold.

A few weeks ago Mrs. Jaygerardtoday had ordered pants for me from the online Freakishly Tall and Big & Husky Boy Men’s store.

I have worn these in the past, they are quite comfortable, but hemming is needed from the factory as our sewing machine had rusted shut decades ago.

Thus far the original shipment arrived hemless, as well as the replacement.

Shipment number 3 is due to arrive in a few days, and I am certain it will too, as promised.

I can only trust that the third time charm principle will apply here, or they will need to send along a seamstress.

I have to go back to BJ’s for some more batteries and I need the pants.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Say Cheese...but cut the cards!

Finley Peter Dunne, the humorist, created a column and character Martin. J Dooley saloon-keeper/philosopher who dispersed wisdom from behind a mythical Chicago bar.

His musings were carried in the Chicago newspapers in the late 1800's.

One of his quotes, and my favorite was "Trust everyone but still cut the cards.

My little town, like many across America, has been reaching out to business owners and entrepreneurs to help resurrect an old, (and former pre-mall) bustling downtown business district.

Modeling after some successful small towns (located not too far from us) we have attracted some of the stereotypical favorites; restaurant/coffee houses frequented by deadbeats for the free Wi-Fi, consignment shops, Art studios, Farmer's Markets, renovated Railways Stations and of course the obligatory Tattoo Parlor.

I am "tat-free" and have no desire for a colorful Dragon or Grateful Dead dancing bear to grace my less than taut fleshy parts, but if I ever were to sloganize my skin, this Martin Dooley quote would surely be one to consider.

It took years for me to realize the truthfulness behind bartender Dooley's statement, usually after much pain and loss during my youth, when carelessness and invincibility partnered with naïveté; trusting those I once considered close.

Life's learning curves can be both painful and embarrassing, especially when your foibles and indiscretions are exposed for all to witness, mock and leer.

As a father of a daughter, and grandfather to 5 little girls (with a 6th grand-baby on the way), it would pain me if in the future I would have to witness the embarrassment and humiliation now experienced this week by a number of young, beautiful "celebrity" women who trusted friends and I-clouds with very personal moments in their lives.

By all accounts it appears that this dissemination of photographs were unauthorized for public view.

They trusted friends, lovers and security but were betrayed by technology and social media hacker-profiteers lacking conscience for the sake of twisted conquest.

For those who want a sneak peak at feminine anatomy the Internet is never lacking. There has and always will be those whose decision it is to display their wares.

For the young women affected by this current scandal, you have my sympathy and support of the capture and prosecution of the scoundrels involved.

Live, Learn, Move-On and next time "cut the cards".