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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 90, March 31: Play Ball!

My Favorite
Baseball Cards
It's Opening Day 2011 for Major League Baseball. I've already posted my all-time favorite players list. Tonight, it's my favorite baseball cards.
1. Richie Allen, Phillies (1968): It's one of those unexplainable things, this being my favorite card. He wasn't a favorite player, nor were the Phils a favorite. It just looks real cool.
2. Mickey Mantle, Yankees (1968): The '68 set of Topps is by far my favorite, and owning the Mantle is worth a lot of money.
Wish it was in mint condition.
3. Carl Yastrzemski, Red Sox (1968): My favorite player as a kid and another cool card. They used the exact pose
for his 1969 card, too. Pretty chincy.
4. Wade Boggs, Red Sox (1986): This Fleer card was very attractive with a blue border and tight-cropped photo.
5. Kirby Puckett, Twins (1985): A handsome Donruss with a black border shows a determined Puckett holding his bat on his shoulder.
6. Nolan Ryan, Mets (1968): This was his rookie prospects card and he shares it with another not-too-shabby rookie named Jerry Koosman. Worth a lot of money, but I put an X on it when I was 11 :-(
7. Johnny Bench, Reds (1969): His rookie card, which isn't quite as neat as his rookie prospects card, but I went and put an X on that one, too. (I didn't want to forget who the star was!)
8. Ted Williams, Red Sox (1955): One of my oldest cards, it was given to me by my first wife, Jane. I told her one time
that Williams was my dad's favorite player.
9. Willie Mays, Giants (1964): Another older one, I like the yellow letters that match the trim of the letters on Mays' uniform.
10. Bo Jackson, Royals (1987): His rookie Donruss card, it's got the nice-looking black edges and has Jackson playing catch. I would rank him very high on my list of all-around greatest athletes.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 89, March 30: Variety TV

My Favorite
TV Variety Shows
They're a lost breed, replaced by mostly reality TV (there won't be a list of my favorite reality TV shows because I don't watch any regularly). Anyway, back to tonight's post. I must admit, there weren't a lot of great ones that I was old enough to watch.
My memory goes back to the mid-1960s and that's it.
1. The Jonathan Winters Show: Very short-lived (1967-69), he also had the Wacky World of Jonathan Winters (1972-74). I loved both as this man was amazingly talented, funny and warm.
2. The Carol Burnett Show: Probably considered the best ever, I especially liked Tim Conway. But the entire cast was excellent.
3. Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In: I was just becoming a teenager when this was the hot show. I laughed a lot, but also was enamored
by Goldie Hawn's bikini.
4. The Flip Wilson Show: Perhaps the most talented actor on a variety show, he was hilariously hyper in this ground-breaking show.
5. The Red Skelton Show: Much like Jonathan Winters, he was very funny but also had a downhome quality to him.
The show ended when I was still pretty young.
6. The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour: I got the humor more than the social commentary as I was again too young to appreciate it. Knowing myself today, I probably would have disagreed with a lot of it.
7. Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour: The perfect match that didn't last. I enjoyed the skits almost as much as Cher's outfits.
8. Hee Haw: Not being a huge country music fan (notwithstanding my most recent post), I loved the animated little pigs
when they danced on the screen.
9. The Ed Sullivan Show: I barely remember this show, and I don't believe my parents watched it every week. I'm pretty sure I saw the first Beatles appearance, but I might be embellishing.
10. Donnie & Marie: Believe it. I liked the wholesomeness of it and many of the songs. In fact, Donnie will have at least
1-2 songs on a future list of mine.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 88, March 29: Hee Haw!

My Favorite 1970s
Country Songs
The 1970s weren't nearly as good as the 1960s, '50s or even '40s, but I found 10 that I enjoyed.

Before the Next Teardrop Falls, Freddie Fender (1974)
For the Good Times, Ray Price (1970)
Good Hearted Woman, Waylon & Willie (1976)
If I Were a Carpenter, Johnny Cash and June Carter (1970)
If We Make It Through December, Merle Haggard (1974)
I Love, Tom T. Hall (1974)
Rhinestone Cowboy, Glen Campbell (1975)
Rose Garden, Loretta Lynn (1970)
The Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A., Donna Fargo (1972)
The Most Beautiful Girl, Charlie Rich (1973)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 87, March 28: Sweet!!

The Evolution of
My All-Time Favorite
Store-Bought Snacks
I am a huge snack guy. However, if you recall from my Jan. 4 posting, I stay slim because I don't overdo any snacks in any one sitting. If I buy a small bag of M&Ms from the vending machine, they will last two days. The same with a candy bar. But, as I said, my favorite snacks when I was younger are different than they are today. Here is the chronology, dividing my life evenly into 10:
Ages 0-5.4: Definitely a Tootsie Roll, and I used to make a huge mess when I sucked on them.
Ages 5.5-9.9: Nestle's Crunch bars. I remember riding my bike down to Bakken's, the corner grocer, buying one for a nickel and thinking that I was finally eating a candy bar with peanuts in it
(I was wrong, of course).
Ages 10-15.4: Do bakery goods count? While in junior high, I'd walk downtown to Fosdal's Bakery and buy a couple of Long Johns that had a pink swirl of frosting in them. Wow they were good!
Ages 15.5-20.9: Little Debbies. Even at that prime age of physical prowess and conditioning, I usually ate just one package in one sitting. My parents often packed them
into my college care packages.
Ages 21-26.4: Ding Dongs. My favorite Little Debbies - the thin brown ones with icing in the middle - were taken off the market
so I rebelled.
Ages 26.5-31.9: M&Ms. They've always been there and always will be. But two young sons joined in on occasionally "drafting" colors from a bunch laid on the table as we shared them together.
Ages 32-37.4: Kit-Kats. Another favorite of my sons, I grew to really like them (I split them every time before I start eating them.
Do you?)
Ages 37.5-42.9: Hershey bar. Again, this one will be with me forever. I especially remember emptying out the boys' Halloween bags and having another "draft."
This bar usually went No. 1.
Ages 43-48.4: Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies. One pack has more than I'm used to eating, but they all go down -
usually with a Mountain Dew :-(
Ages 48.5-54: Dry Roasted Peanuts. Perhaps I'm finally weening myself from sugary treats. Kind of like when I want a healthy fast-food lunch, I'll get a sub sandwich :-)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Day 86, March 27: To Infinity ...

My Favorite
Animated Films
I've seen a lot of them. Most of the classics new and old, in fact. Here is my list - plus a list of honorable mentions that might well indeed make others' Top 10.
1. Toy Story 1, 2 and 3: Rather than take up three spots - which they would - I put them tied at No. 1. I liked the original best, No. 3 second and No. 2 just behind the others.
2. Up: The combination of fun and endearing love made this a fantastic film for all ages.
3. All Dogs Go to Heaven: Very few Top 10s would have this on the list, but I watched it over and over on DVD with my young sons.
4. Shrek: The voices and characters were fantastic. I started losing interest in the sequels, though.
5. Bugs Bunny & Road Runner Movie: Makes sense that my favorite cartoon of all time would rank in my Top 10 of favorite animated films.
6. 101 Dalmations: All those dogs running around and that evil woman ... a great combination for a young boy when I saw this movie.
7. Wall-E: I literally loved the first half or more of this film but really disliked when it went to the fat humans - though it was a great commentary on us.
8. Finding Nemo: I saw this for the first time on DVD at my sister Ann's house with brother-in-law Dave, neice Renae and my entire family. Very cute.
9. A Bug's Life: This was such a creative and interesting animated film, it makes my list.
10. Pinocchio: I remember as a youngster being amazed at the talking puppet and his adventures.
Near misses that would make others' lists: Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs; The Lion King; Ratatouille; The Incredibles; Cars; Bambi; How to Train Your Dragon; The Simpson's Movie.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day 85, March 26: Encore

My Most Memorable
Live Concerts
I don't go to as many as I used to - I'm getting old! - but I have a long history of attending concerts. Here are my 10 most memorable.
1. The Barenaked Ladies: Just a few years ago, I took my two sons and their friend Digger to see this band in Madison. It wasn't long after my first wife, Jane, died. The bonding
among us that night matched the fabulous performance.
2. Coldplay I: Another fairly recent event, I surprised my eventual second wife, Kris, by taking her to this concert at Alpine Valley, a famous outdoor venue in southeast Wisconsin. She was so happy. 
3. The Delfuegos: In about 1987, I took a trip to see my friend Mark in Boston. We saw part of this concert in an underground, packed venue. It was so different than any other concert I've ever attended.
4. Crosby, Stills & Nash: Friends Merry and Bill got Jane and I free tickets to see this group in Cedar Rapids. It's sad because it was the last entertainment-related night out ever for Jane and me.
5. Grand Funk: One of my first concerts as a teenager, the pre-group was Electric Light Orchestra. Saw them in Madison
and it was so cool seeing a real concert.
6. Fleetwood Mac: Probably my favorite all-time group, I saw them soon after the album Rumors came out in the 1970s. Stevie Nicks almost floated on stage and it was a mesmerizing night.
7. ZZ Top: About four years ago, my baby boomer friends Ed and Merry joined my for a stroll back to our younger days by seeing this raucous group play in Dubuque.
8. Bruce Springsteen: Not one of my favorite artists, it nonetheless was memorable seeing him in Madison in the late 1970s.
Quite the show.
9. Coldplay and Snow Patrol: Kris and I saw them back-to-back in Des Moines and it was a great concert.
10. Tom Jones: I surprised my mom by taking her to see this 1960s singer, whom she liked. She got disgusted by the women throwing lingerie at him on stage!

Day 84, March 25: Is My Head Attached?

Ten Things I
Tend to Forget
1. This blog: Forgot yesterday! But it's only the second time I've missed in 83 days. Not bad.
2. Where I put my glasses: I need them only for distance, so when I take them off to do something close up, I often walk away without putting them back on.
3. Birthdays and anniversaries: By far my most regretful. It hurts a lot when you forget something like this for a loved one.
4. My cell phone: I don't use it a lot, so when I leave to go somewhere, I forget it - despite all of Kris' reminders.
5. Names: We all do this to some extent, don't we? But I could make a better effort at remembering.
6. To call my mom: We don't see each other in person much anymore and our shared phone calls are important.
7. What Kris told me 5 minutes ago: Focus, Jim, focus!
8. What assignments I gave my staffers: I'm constantly asking them about this. I must be overworked; have to ask my boss for a raise.
9. To clean Tabby's litterbox: Forget this too long and there's dire repercussions. He's so old, he goes a lot more these days which means cleaning more often :-(
10. To think about God: I tend to think about Him only when I want something or to thank Him for something. I yearn to think about Him always to gain more wisdom.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 83, March 24: Hoopsters

My All-Time Favorite
Basketball Players
It's the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament tonight and I was watching my newest "favorite" player, Jimmer Fredette of BYU. He's an old-fashioned gunner (long-range shooter) and I can relate to that. Here are my other favorite basketball players of all time.
1. Pete Maravich, LSU, NBA: He was just so amazing on the court and with the ball. The shots, the passes and the pizzazz.
2. Jon McGlocklin, Milwaukee Bucks: My original favorite gunner, he was a star for the Bucks when I was just becoming a teen. Interestingly, they spelled his first name wrong in the card above.
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bucks and L.A. Lakers: From the same era and longer, the big sky-hooking center from UCLA (Lew Alcindor then) was dominating and fun to watch.
4. Jerry West, Lakers: I didn't realize until I started this list how the players from my youth would be the top 3. But this guard
was one of the greatest shooters ever.
5. Larry Bird, Boston Celtics: How could a guy who looked like Bird play so well? Somehow he made that unathletic body
do some amazing things.
6. Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls: Probably the best ever,
if you count overall talent and titles.
7. Bill Russell, Boston Celtics: Maybe better than Jordan,
again counting talent and titles.
8. Magic Johnson, L.A. Lakers: Another wizard on the court,
his battles against Bird are unforgettable.
9. John Stockton, Utah Jazz: He gave all of us little white guys inspiration. Man he could pass it.
10. Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns: Ditto to No. 9, he's so good,
he became an MVP.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Day 82, March 23: Go Vikings!

My Favorite High School Mascots
I've Known from Covering Games
For more than half of my 32-year newspaper career, I was a sports editor or sports reporter. I covered games in the following states: Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Here are my favorite mascots from those years in sports.
1. The Orifino (Idaho) Maniacs (above): Even though they were NOT named for the state mental hospital located nearby, it's too much of a coincidence to not be the legend.
2. The Belfrey (Mont.) Bats: Need I say more?
3. The Freeport (Ill.) Pretzels: The name is due to the town's German heritage and pretzel bakery.
4. The Monroe (Wis.) Cheesemakers: And, no, the athletes don't wear CheeseHeads when they play; I competed
against these guys as a Stoughton Viking.
5. The Campbell County (Wyo.) Camels: The school is in Gillette, where I worked, and nobody I know has ever
seen a camel in those parts.
6. The Shelley (Idaho) Russets: There's lots of potatoes up that way.
7. The Columbia Hickman (Mo.) Kewpies: It's so cute.
8. The Fall Creek (Wis.) Crickets:
The mascot must be so intimidating.
9. The Sheldon (Iowa) Orabs: I came across this while writing a book about tri-state area basketball. And it's NOT Arabs.
10. The Fulton Unity Christian Knights (Illinois): 
Look at the words closely and think about it ...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 81, March 22: More than just Animals?

Tabby pushing 18. He's still standing and not looking too bad for, what, 126 in human years!?!
My Favorite Pets
During the first 20-plus years of my life, we had so many pets, I lost track of them all. During the next 16, it was hardly any. The past 18, it's only been Tabby. So, it's an easy No. 1.
But what about after that?
1. Tabby: Talk about a love-hate relationship! The stories I could tell. Neither of the boys realize how much work a pet is, especially one who would qualify for the old pets' home. But, yeah, when he finally goes, I'll miss him, until ... (see No. 10)
2. Billie: A Boston Terrier who was my late father's favorite by far. He was literally an animal - man could he fight. I bloodied his nose while he bloodied my knuckles (it wasn't as bad as it sounds).
3. Chang: One of our many Siamese cats (or was it Ching?)
Either way, it was cool having several Siamese.
4. Jabbar: A mixed collie/German shepherd, or something like that.
I named him after one of my favorite Milwaukee Bucks players,
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
5. Joe: A little runt of a mixed breed, this dog liked to drink beer
and he once fell off the porch drunk.
6. Rocky: We actually owned a young, wild raccoon for a while after its mother died. My mom and late sister, Amy, loved it most and cried when it got too big and we had to let it go.
7. Bootsie: I barely remember this black and white cat who, you guessed it, had coloring that made it look like she had boots.
8. Goldfish: None of them ever lived long enough to leave an impression. Actually flushed one dead one down the toilet once, which might have scarred my two young sons at the time.
9. Mr. Ed: As pre-kindergartners, we "adopted" this huge horse - according to my mom - when we'd walk through a big field to go and stand right up next to it (she shrieked at us to get home!)
10. Tubby: I'm threatening to name our next cat this, in memory of Tabby. Whatever, I don't think I'll be able to go too long without a replacement when Tabby finally goes.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Day 80, March 21: Not Just for Women

My Favorite
Chick Flicks
First of all, it's tricky defining a chick flick. So I went online and found several chick-flick lists, made by men and women. Every movie in my list was on at least two Internet lists - so they have to be legitimate, right?
"A League of Their Own" - One of those rare chick flick/sports movie combos. Makes this list, but not quite my
all-time favorite sports movies list.
"Ghost" - I was so happy this was on the Internet lists because it's one of my all-time, ALL-TIME faves.
"It Could Happen to You": A great true story
and on other movies lists of mine.
"Mama Mia!" - I love ABBA so much, I sang along to this one - it also makes my all-time list of favorite musicals.
"My Big Fat Greek Wedding" - A very heart-warming look
at the closeness (and oddness) of family.
"Serendipity" - I loved the love story and the serendipitous of it all.
"Sixteen Candles" - This hilarious love story is on several
of my movie lists.
"Sleepless in Seattle" - There had to be at least one
Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie on this list.
"When Harry Met Sally" - Funny and worth seeing just for Ryan's orgasmic impression (and the look on Billy Crystal's face.)
"You've Got Mail" - There had to be at least one MORE
Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie on this list!


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Day 79, March 20: Greatest Stories

My Favorite
Jesus Parables
At first, I was going to do my favorite Jesus parables/sayings, but there were too many. I'll do my favorite sayings on Easter. I'm doing parables today because I felt inspired.
1. The Prodigal Son: It sends shivers down my spine to think that God will welcome us back, even should we stray and seem to be dead. We are alive.
2. The Workers in the Vineyard: The last will be first and the first will be last. Amazing and hard to comprehend in human minds.
3. The Good Samaritan: The one who was despised by his contemporaries proved to be the most merciful.
4. The Sower of Seeds: The one who plants his seed on the good ground has the strongest and growing faith.
5. The Lowest Seat: Don't try to be proud or conceited. Whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
6. The Wicked Tenants: Even sending his beloved son wasn't enough for the master to get his fruits.
7. The Lost Sheep: Though the shepherd had 100, he sought after, found the lost one and celebrated to high heaven.
8. The Wedding Feast: Many - oh so many - are called, but few are (sadly) chosen.
9. The Mustard Seed: It's the smallest, but miracuously grows into the largest - similar to our faith.
10. The Parable of the Talents: It makes my list because it stretches my faith. It is so difficult to reconcile the fate of the one with the fewest talents.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Day 78, March 19: No Rhyme

My Very Favorite
Orange Things
No word in the English language rhymes with the word orange. Here are orange things I like.
1. Cheetos: I eat these way too often and it's only the kind seen in the photo above - not the hard kind.
2. Carrots: I eat these almost every day
and they're better for me than Cheetos.
3. Orange juice: Most mornings, I'll drink this
with peanut butter/Land O'Lakes butter toast.
4. Cheese: On rare occasions, I've had toasted cheese sandwiches, cheetos, carrots and orange juice for lunch :-)
5. Mike Bruesewitz's hair: He's a hard-working player on the Wisconsin's men's basketball team whose Afro orange hair
is in tribute to his brother.
6. Carrot Top's hair: I saw this comedian in person in Dubuque
and he was very funny.
7. Sherbet: I don't eat this as much as I used to - too tangy.
8. Pumpkins: A field full of them in the fall is just beautiful.
9. Denver Broncos uniforms: While I lived out West,
they were my second favorite team.
10. My old beard: Ahhh, back in the day ... before
it became more salt and pepper.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Day 77, March 18: Here's the Story

My All-Time Favorite
TV Theme Songs
Once again, all of mine are from the past. They just seemed more fun (and I don't watch network TV shows much anymore). Besides, they offer great memories.
1. Flipper: Don't laugh. It brings back great memories of my childhood and almost brings tears to my eyes the rare times I hear it now.
2. The Rifle Man: How different can these two shows possibly be? This is one of those times on my endless lists that I just can't explain, but it's really No. 2.
3. Gilligan's Island: It's got to be on every person's list of favorite TV theme songs, doesn't it?
4. The Brady Bunch: Ditto to No. 3. They're all soooo cute.
5. Green Acres: "The chores ... the stores ...
fresh air ... Times Square!"
6. Rawhide: It's dating me a little bit, but what a spitfire song.
7. The Addams Family: Creepy and so much fun.
8. All in the Family: There's a special bond between Edith and Archie that comes out in this song.
9. Mr. Ed: Well of course, a horse is a horse.
10. The Twilight Zone: I shiver next to Kris everytime we watch it
on my DVDs.
Honorable mentions: The Andy Griffith Show, Happy Days, Cheers, Welcome Back Kotter, Mission: Impossible, The Beverly Hillbillies, Batman and Love Boat (really).

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day 76, March 17: iPod Groups

Bands With Most Songs
on My iPod
1. Fleetwood Mac
2. The Moody Blues
3. The Beatles
4. The Eagles
5. (tie) Jet, Santana
6. (tie) Barenaked Ladies, Death Cab for Cutie, Decemberists, Keane, Led Zeppelin, Wings.
7. Spoon
8. (tie) ABBA, The Carpenters, The Rolling Stones.
9. (tie) Coldplay, Electric Light Orchestra, Snow Patrol.
10. (tie) America, The Bee Gees, Cake, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, The New Pornographers, Steely Dan.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 75, March 16: Madness!

My All-Time Favorite
March Madness Games
Some of my favorites would rank among the most memorable ever. Others might be forgotten by many. But here are mine, with a special tie at No. 1.
1. Iowa 93, Okla. 91; UNLV 84, Iowa 81 (1987): The only March Madness games I've ever seen in person, I covered them in Seattle
for the Telegraph Herald. Both were breathless.
2. Wisconsin 64, Purdue 60 (2000): Not a fantastic game, but very special because it put the Badgers into the Final Four.
3. North Carolina 88, Wisconsin 82 (2005): Watched this exciting game with the boys in a restaurant above the Arizona Diamondbacks stadium during a spring training vacation.
4. Villanova 66, Georgetown 64 (1985): I don't like either, but really dislike the Hoyas. Watched this thriller with several TH sports types
at John Rezell's apartment.
5. N.C. State 54, Houston 52 (1983): I saw this amazing game in an amazing venue - a podunk sports bar in Gillette, Wyo.
6. Mich. State 75, Indiana State 64 (1979): Everyone who saw it knew we were seeing a new era of team basketball
with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.
7. Northern Iowa 69, Kansas 67 (2009): What a great, great upset for a neat smaller college. Put daring Ali Farokhmanesh on the map.
8. Duke 104, Kentucky 103 (1992): Again, not one of my favorite teams, but I watched this wild game and Christian Laettner's late shot in the TH sports department.
9. BYU 51, Notre Dame 50 (1981): Too hot from the Florida beach, I stepped into a sports bar during a spring break trip
and saw Danny Ainge's great drive to victory.
10. Marquette 67, North Carolina 59 (1977): The Badgers were horrible and I got enamored with Al McGuire's team
and savored this home-state title.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day 74, March 15: Serious Topic - The Boomers' Legacy

Things We Boomers Could Do
To Pay it Forward
I was born smack dab in the middle of the baby boom (1957). And, I'm convinced my generation will eventually be very tough to manage. There won't be enough money or people to take care of all of us as we get older and older. That's why I have a list of suggestions for members of my generation to consider so that we might be looked on later as the Greatest of the Great Generation.
1. Sacrifice I: Figure out financial ways to cut back on the "now" to have more stored away for when we'll need help to live.
Cover our butts.
2. Sacrifice II: Not only be willing to take less Social Security than we were promised, but also initiate the conversation.
So many after us will be thankful.
3. Richer and poorer: With No. 2 in mind, the richest who don't honestly need the extra SS money should be willing to give up some so that the poorest among us can survive.
4. Volunteer I: Help out at the public schools. They're suffering. Regardless of who is to blame, the kids need us to help them do homework or act as mentors.
5. Volunteer II: Devise and populate a national parenting program. Work from our inner cities outward, emphasizing the importance of a father in the home and teaching basic adult responsibilities.
6. Take care of ourselves: Our millions of boomers will be tough enough to take care of from general aging. We don't need to burden future generations with broken down bodies before we even turn 70.
7. Volunteer III: With No. 6 in mind, get out and help coach youth sports teams or assist in the summer park programs.
8. Set examples: Remembering how we were brought up to be responsible adults, do likewise by not spoiling or giving in
all of the time to our grandchildren.
9. Have faith: Regardless of your denomination, pray that our society will survive our last years here. If you don't pray,
think of ways you can help our society.
10. Remember the Golden Rule: Thinking of others now en masse might go a long way in others helping us down the road.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Day 73, March 14: No Heckling

mY aLL-tiMe FAVoRitE
Stand-Up Comedians
Some are classics, some are lesser known. But all made me laugh - a lot. The top tier made me laugh until I cried. The lower tier made me laugh almost philosophically. I like laughing both ways. You'll notice, none of my comedians are known for coarse, gross or dirty language. Not my thing. To each his/her own, though!
Tears Tier
Rodney Dangerfield: No list of stand-ups could forget him, could it?
Kevin Meany: I saw his live show in Las Vegas and
nearly choked on my drink I laughed so hard.
Jerry Seinfeld: I liked him a lot long before his TV series began.
Sinbad: I couldn't get enough
of his Comedy Central specials a few years back.
Jonathan Winters: My earliest experience
of laughing until tears flowed.
Thinking Tier
Woody Allen: He introduced me to the Jewish lifestyle and deep, thoughtful laughs.
Albert Brooks: What a way with words and everyday problems.
Bill Cosby: Another grand daddy that should grace
every list of top comics.
Steve Martin: Goofy and silly, but he managed
to also make you think.
Dennis Miller: What a vocabulary.
And an equal opportunity political humorist.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Day 72, March 13: Taking the Oath

My Favorite
Being a student of history, I favor presidents from the past. Yet, had I lived during their times, I might not have appreciated or respected them. None are perfect and, true to my independent nature, there is probably a mixture of political affiliations (I didn't bother to check on each one).
1. Abraham Lincoln: A no-brainer, right? I've read enough about him to know that I would have admired him in the 1860s as our country fought it out.
2. George Washington: Being the first, he could have set a negative, egotistical tone. He did the exact opposite and the rest is history.
3. Theodore Roosevelt: I liked his firey style and toughness. He also left a lasting legacy with the national park system.
4. Ronald Reagan: Over-rated by conservatives, overly vilified by liberals, I "liked" the guy. His right-leaning views echo many of mine, as well.
5. Franklin Roosevelt: He got us out of the Great Depression and was tough during World War II. Though I believe many of his big-govt. programs are outdated and unnecessary now, they were needed at the time.
6. John F. Kennedy: I will never condone his sex life, but he was another firey and take-action president who I thought would have accomplished a lot had he not been assassinated.
7. Thomas Jefferson: His advanced thinking and intelligence had to be admired. He was another early Founding Father who set a great tone and got us the Louisiana Purchase.
8. John Addams: Ditto to Jefferson, I learned a lot about this great man from the TV mini-series.
9. Andrew Jackson: I detested much of what this man did, but I also admire him for leading the country while suffering so many personal heartaches.
10 (tie). Dwight Eisenhower: I don't know as much about him as I'd like to, but helping start desegration of schools in the South is a huge positive.
10. (tie) Woodrow Wilson: Handled the horrible World War I era well and helped establish the League of Nations.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Day 71, March 12: Over Troubled Waters

My Favorite Bridges
I haven't been on too many famous ones - especially outside the United States - but I'm sure you'll recognize a few of these.
1. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco: It's too famous not to be my No. 1, and it lives up to its reputation.
2. The Mackinaw Bridge, Mackinaw, Mich.: An amazing bridge I got to share with my family on a vacation.
3. Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Va.: Same as No. 2, and this one included an underwater tunnel.
4. Bellevue, Neb., Toll Bridge: Kris took me the long way to Omaha on one of our trips and it was a trip to days gone by.
5. Coronado Bridge, San Diego, Calif.: I've been on this one a couple of times. It curves!
6. Bixby Bridge, Calif.: Near Carmel on Hwy 1, it gives an awesome view of the Pacific.
7. Old Sunshine Bridge, Tampa, Fla.: Another fantastic view, this time of the Gulf of Mexico. It collapsed in 1980, just a couple of years after I was on it.
8. Sixth, Seventh or Eighth Street bridges, Pittsburgh: Identical side-by-side bridges, they offer cool views of the city and rivers.
9. Wisconsin Bridge, Dubuque: Coming out of Wisconsin west toward Dubuque,
you get a nice look at the Mississippi River and the city.
10. Yahara River Bridge, Stoughton, Wis.: A quaint little bridge over a quaint little hometown.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Day 70, March 11: 1990s Movies

My Favorites:
Fun, Serious and No Thanks
This is a complete rundown of my 1990s movie lists
Favorite Fun Ones
Forrest Gump
Groundhog Day
Home Alone
Honeymoon in Vegas
Men in Black
Something About Mary
Toy Story
What About Bob?
Favorite Serious Ones
Apollo 13
Boyz N the Hood
Dances With Wolves
The Fugitive
The Green Mile
Saving Private Ryan
Schindler's List
Shawshank Redemption
Popular Ones I Didn't Like
as Much as Others Did
Being John Malkovich
The Big Lebowski
The English Patient
Goodwill Hunting
Independence Day
Jurassic Park
The Lion King
The Matrix
The Piano
No Thanks
Don't Even Want to See
Fight Club
L.A. Confidential
Leaving Las Vegas
Reservoir Dogs
The Player
Pulp Fiction
Wag the Dog
See the third comment under this posting to see
why two "No Thanks" movies were lined out.

Day 69, March 10: No Women Allowed

My Favorite
Guy Trips
The boys and I are on our second straight trip to the Big Ten men's basketball tournament in Indianapolis. (Last night, I couldn't figure out how to get to my blog, so this post is a day late :-( Anyway, I love going on trips with Kris or the family, but it's also fun to take some with the guys. Here are my most memorable guy trips:
1. Gillette, Wyo. to Milwaukee: I still can't believe I crammed into a huge RV with seven other guys in 1982 to catch the Brewers and Cardinals in the World Series. What a long weekend!
2. Baseball trip: In 2007, the boys and I hit ballgames in Indianpolis, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Cleveland, while also making a stop at Cedar Point Amusement Park - all in less than a week.
3. Going East: The brothers-in-law and I have a tradition of going out on the Saturday night of Thanksgiving break. In 2003, after my wife Jane died that July, we had a very therapeutic and long night 
that included East Dubuque.
4. Winter ball: Our slow pitch softball team filled a few vans and headed to the huge Poynette Winter Softball Tournament, I believe in Feb. 1980. Didn't win much, but had a blast.
5. Indianapolis: This year and last, it's been a rewarding trip as we are able to travel much better together now 
that we've all grown up a bit.
6. Spring break: I took several trips to Florida while in college and the memories blend together. I often made things tough as an immature 20-something, but have more good than bad memories.
7. Miles City, Mont.: Many of the same group of wild men that went to Milwaukee traveled to the wild west town of Miles City for a weekend softball tournament. Strange experience.
8. NFL trip: The boys, one of Jay's friends and I went to see the Packers play the Rams. On Saturday, we witnessed a near brawl outside the stadium between fans of two 
black small college football teams.
9. Idaho to California: While working in Idaho Falls, a friend of mine from Gillette - Vic - and I took a road trip through most of California and down to Vegas. Fun, but challenging with just two guys.
10. Louisville: One of the first trips the boys and I took as Jane was laid up with her breast cancer. Lots of good memories, but I think we all struggled without Mom around.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Day 68, March 9: Pepperoni?

My Favorite Pizzas
I didn't eat a slice of pizza until I was 17 years old. My dad didn't like pizza, so we never had it. But I was at my first girlfriend's house one night and the family had Tombstone pizza on the table. The rest is history, even though I don't like a lot of toppings. Here are my favorites as I discovered them.
1. Tombstone: That night at Debbie's house, I managed to eat a couple of slices along with Fritoes and Pepsi.
I was pleasantly surprised.
2. Shakey's Pizza: One of my first non-frozen pizzas.
I really liked the thin crust and sausage topping.
3. Rocky Roccoco's: A very thick style made primarily in Madison, Wis. Still one of my favorites.
4. Pizza Pit: Another Madison staple, it tasted
much better than it sounded.
5. Gillette,Wyo.: Not sure what local place made it, but our newspaper staff ordered a few and one of them had pineapple
and shrimp on it. Again, pleasantly surprised.
6. Shot Tower: A popular Dubuque spot, this place has great thick and thin pizzas. Perhaps my No. 1 of all time.
7. Town Clock Inn: Another Dubuque hot spot, just a couple blocks away from the Shot Tower. Great all-you-can-eat lunch specials.
8. Happy Joe's: A third Dubuque offering, the kids can watch the workers prepare this tasty pizza.
The owners are some of the nicest around.
9. Pizza Hut: An old reliable, and still very good.
10. Kieler Greenhouse: A little bar in tiny Kieler, Wis., if you order sausage, you get a lot of sausage;
the same with mushrooms, pepperonis ...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Day 67, March 8: Kris I

One little patch to go in the dining room.
My Admiration
of "The Worker"
The first time I saw Kris' home on Almond Street, I marveled at the handiwork, not realizing she had done the majority of the work. She's picked up where she left off at our house on Hill Street. Though we both are a bit frustrated with some of the upkeep of a 100-year-old home, Kris continues to make improvements on it. I help on most of the projects, but she's the leader. Here are some of the the things she has done so far and hopes to do in the future.
1. The office: One of the first things she did was take down this cool golf-themed wallpaper and paint the walls a neutral color
(at least I thought the golf paper was cool!)
2. The living room: She had us take down a big mirror
and painted above the fireplace.
3. The dining room I: She put up some great wooden shutters, tore down some old wallpaper and eventually painted it a neutral color.
4. The dining room II: She ripped out some old carpeting
to expose a beautiful wooden floor.
5. The dining room III: She's currently redoing the wooden floor to get a more durable finish and highlight the rustic beauty of the wood. (see photo)
6. The kitchen: We took down an odd-looking mirror on one wall and put up a neat chalkboard.
7. The bathroom next to our bedroom I:
She painstakingly tore up a cheap floor covering to expose an original octagonal tile.
8. The bathroom next to our bedroom II: She ripped off the old walls, exposing the wooden lats, then had a new wall put up and painted it a matching color to the tiles.
9. Our bedroom: We put up wooden blinds similar
to the ones downstairs.
10. The living room future: She wants to yank out the old carpet to expose another wooden floor.
Phew! What a woman!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Day 66, March 7: 1973 Pop

My Top 1973
pop songs
Other than 1972, this might be my favorite year of music.
This is just one of my Top 10 lists from that year.
(Refer back to Jan. 13 blog entry for similar list)
1. "Oh Babe, What Would You Say,"
by Hurricane Smith
2. "Dancing in the Moonlight," by King Harvest
3. "Brother Louis," Stories
4. "It Never Rains in Southern California,"
by Albert Hammond
5. "Playground in My Mind," by Clint Holmes
6. "Stuck in the Middle," by Stealers Wheel
7. "Daisy a Day," by Jud Strunk
8. "Last Song," by Edward Bear
9. "Peaceful," by Helen Reddy
10. "My Maria," by B.W. Stevenson
Note: Five of these artists are considered one-hit wonders. Can you figure out which ones?
Check out the answer on the Jan. 13 blog entry.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Day 65, March 6: For the Birds

My All-Time Favorite Birds
Kris pointed out a robin in our backyard yesterday. Got me to thinking about my favorite birds.
1. Cardinal: It's so bright and colorful, you can't miss it
in the woods or anywhere else.
2. Blue Jay: Another pretty one, though I've heard he's mean.
3. Robin: It's Wisconsin's state bird, and I'm a Badger at heart.
4. Red-winged blackbird: The color on their wings is so cool. I remember seeing them a lot in the country when I was a kid.
5. Bald eagle: It's our national bird, and living near
the Mississippi River, I get to see a lot of them.
6. Baltimore Oriole: Another area bird I can see often,
and they're rivals of the Red Sox :-)
7. Hummingbird: The rare times I see one, it's awesome
- one of God's cool creations.
8. Parrot: Always a favorite when we took the boys
to the pet store or zoo.
9. Blackbird: Some are huge,
and the packs they sometimes travel in our almost scary.
10. Red-headed woodpecker: I seldom see one unless I hear it first and then watching it peck is awesome.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Day 64, March 5: SNL

My All-Time Favorites:
Saturday Night Live
Was watching a special on "SNL of the 1990s" last night and it got me to reminiscing. I saw the debut show on Oct. 11, 1975 and have watched it on and off ever since.
Here are my favorite SNL characters and skits.
Characters (alphabetical order)
Buckwheat: Eddie Murphy
Church Lady: Dana Carvey
Ed Grimley: Martin Short
Loopners, Todd and Lisa: Bill Murray and Gildna Radner
MacGruber: Will Forte
Matt Foley, inspirational speaker: Chris Farley
Pat: Julia Sweeney
Tarzan, Tonto & Frankenstein's Monster:
Kevin Nealon, Jon Lovitz, Phil Hartman
Toonces: The Driving Cat
Two Wild & Crazy Guys: Dan Akryod and Steve Martin
Skits (listed by favorites; dates for first airing)
1. Synchronized Swimming, Oct. 20, 1984: Harry Shearer,
Martin Short and Christopher Guest.
2. The Chippendales, Oct. 27, 1990: Chris Farley and Patrick Swayze
3. More Cowbell, April 8, 2000: Christopher Walken, Will Farrell, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Parnell and Horatio Sanz.
4. Consumer Probe, Dec. 11, 1976: Dan Ackroyd
and Candice Bergen.
5. Delicious Dish, Schweddy Balls, Dec. 12, 1998: Ana Gasteyer, Molly Shannon and Alec Baldwin.
6. Wayne's World, Feb. 18, 1989: Dana Carvey and Mike Myers.
7. The Coneheads, Jan. 15, 1977: Ackroyd, Jane Curtin
and Laraine Newman.
8. Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood, Feb. 21, 1981: Eddie Murphy.
9. The Chris Farley Show, Oct. 5, 1991: Farley.
10. Celebrity Jeopardy, Dec. 7, 1996: Farrell, Darrell Hammond
and Norm McDonald.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Day 63, March 4: All Thumbs

My All-Time List
of Things I Can't
Fix or Build
Some people are great writers and lovers (right Kris? She just said, "That's what I hear" :-( Others can fix or build things (like my late dad, my brother Jeff, brothers-in-law Dave and Steve, good friend Ed and, well, just about any other guy I know is better at it than I am.) Kris has coaxed me into putting up a shelf here and some window shades there, so there is hope. Here are 10 things I wish I could do.
1. Fix the toilet: I scrape my knuckles trying to undo the screws.
2. Fix the sink: Ditto, though I did manage to put in some new ones
in one of our bathrooms and they aren't leaking - yet.
3. Fix anything under the hood of a car: What a mess.
4. Build a workbench: I'd cut off the tip of my finger.
And why would I need a workbench?
5. Build a small shed: I really could use this to keep my rakes, hoes, shovels and other tools I'm good with.
6. Build an addition to the house: Right.
7. Fix a broken concrete step: I've tried and it's a very temporary fix. I'll need to fix it again soon.
8. Fix an aging storm window: I'd drop it. I DID drop an air conditioner from a second floor window once,
almost cutting off the tip of my finger.
9. Fix a leak in the ceiling: I'd probably have to get on the roof
and that wouldn't be pretty.
10. Build anything from the store that comes with
build-it-yourself instructions:
At least on my first try.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Day 62, March 3: Because I Said So

My Favorite
Father Tips
Anyone who is older than, say 40, will recognize the phrase I used as the title of this entry. Our fathers - and even mothers - used it when they didn't want to discuss, debate or bargain with us (things parents do too much of these days). And, anyone following my blog will know that I believe I could be a better husband. Dad? Well, the only thing I'm more proud of is how my two sons have turned out. They lost their mother as teens. Yet, they went through school without drinking, taking drugs, failing any classes and getting any girl pregnant. If ANY boys had a reason to rebel, it was them. But they didn't, made lots of friends and are now in college. I'd like to think I had a little to do with that.
1. Be the boss: At an early age (2-7), I avoided asking the boys questions like "Are you ready for bed yet?" or "Should we get your coat on now?" When I knew it was time, it was time. Period.
2. Be a friend, too: Nobody played and goofed around and laughed with their kids more than I did. Exhausted from a long day at work or even after splitting wood, I spent time with them if they asked me to.
3. Rule No. 1: My boys weren't allowed to swear, so I didn't (with a few occasional human slips). These parents who think it's cute when their toddler cusses will end up having rowdier kids. Believe me.
4. Rule No. 2: They got responsible looking haircuts as pre-teens. No hair down to their shoulders. No Mohawks. As teenagers, I gave them the option and they ended up choosing short haircuts.
5. Rule No. 3: No cellphone for a pre-teen. Even though that was back in the "Dark Ages" of cellphones, I would still have that rule today. Not sure how I'd handle the Internet, Facebook and the like.
6. Rule No. 4: Summing up the previous three, I went out of my way to be stricter than other parents without becoming a John Rosemond (a very strict parenting columnist). I truly believe kids yearn for strict rules.
7. Be human: I apologized and explained later why they had to be disciplined. I admitted when I was wrong. And, I told them I'd be more sad than mad if they started drinking or taking drugs.
8. Make them be accountable: On very rare occasions, they were grounded. I told them straight out that my trust in them had been tested and that they needed to earn it back.
I also said I believed they would.
9. Give up control: As they got into their mid-teens and proved they could be responsible and trustworthy, I let them make some grown-up decisions. For the most part, they were great. But rules still applied.
10. Moving on: By the time they turn 18-21, you better hope they still respect you and share time with you. If they don't, you'll wonder what you did. My sons and I will soon head to Indianapolis for our sixth or seventh annual Guys Sports Trip.
Love them dearly.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Day 61, March 2: Non-Fiction

My Favorite
Non-Fiction Books
This is what I usually read, and seven of these I've read in the past few years. So, I've probably forgotten some good ones from the past. And, a list of my Top 10 Fiction books would not only be weak, but probably embarrassing. We'll see.
1. "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee," by Dee Brown and Hampton Sides: I've read this three times. It's an amazing and sad recap of what happened to the various Indian tribes and their leaders.
2. "A Team of Rivals," by Doris Kearns Goodwin: A fantastic look at Lincoln and his cabinet during the Civil War. It added to my already high opinion of this great leader.
3. "Luckiest Man: The Life & Death of Lou Gehrig," by Jonathan Eig: I knew a lot about the Iron Horse, but gained even more of an appreciation of this selfless, incredible athlete.
4. "Bruce Catton's Civil War, Trilogy (Mr. Lincoln's Army, Glory Road, A Stillness at Appomattox): I read this huge set 3-volume set in one book in a few days after moving back
to the Midwest from Idaho.)
5. "Cobb," by Al Stump: I had earlier read Ty Cobb's "slightly" biased autobiography and got a more honest assessment of his amazing
and controversial career.
6. "Boone: A Biography," by Robert Morgan: Very well researched and fair-minded. Pointed out positive and negatives of the white man and the red man. Boone was a pretty cool dude.
7. "American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House," by Jon Meacham: Old Hickory wasn't the most cool dude. He had a tragic childhood, which contributed to his failings.
But it can't excuse all of his failings.
8. "The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle & the End of America's Childhood," by Jane Leavy: Although I noticed her "writing" too often, she still told a impelling story about another tragic figure in our history.
9. "A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Big Horn," by Jim Donovan: A very detailed and lively tale of the oft-told story. You really feel as though you're riding with the confident and arrogant general.
10. "Faithful," by Stephen King and Stewart O'Nan: The serendipitous chronicling of the Red Sox long-awaited 2004 World Series season. They couldn't have known when they started what would happen.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day 60, March 1: Not Quite Crying

Movies That Bring
Tears to My Eyes
It doesn't matter how many times I see these movies, I get tears in my eyes near the end when a certain part plays out. It's good for men to shed tears once in a while, isn't it? That's what they say, anyway. So I'm not ashamed or embarrassed by it.
1. "Ghost:" As with many of these, this film ranks in my all-time Top 20. I love its spiritualness, its love between the main characters and Whoopi Goldberg. Tears come when Demi Moore is working the clay and the song "Unchained Melody" plays. They come again at the end. (Twice in one movie!)
2. "Field of Dreams:" Toward the end, when Kevin Costner says in an almost choked voice, "Hey, Dad, do you want to have a catch?"
I'm done. Tears time, every time.
3. "Babe:" Geez, I like Arnold Ziffel from "Green Acres" and I cry over a pig. But when his proud owner is showing off his sheep dog winner and says, "That'll do pig, that'll do," I shed tears. (I love pork, too!)
4. "Toy Story I, II or III:" Man these are sentimental stories, especially for a parent. The last one - just thinking about it now is bringing tears - was just an awesome ending to sum up the series.
5. "Heaven Can Wait:" Another great spiritual film, it also has humor and sports. I nearly cry when Jack Warden is left bewildered in the lockerroom then shed tears when Beatty tells Christie in the dark, "There's nothing to worry about." It's heavenly.
6. "Shane:" That odd little boy, with the cross eyes ... when he yells, "Come back Shane. Shaaaane, come back. Mother wants you to come back. Shaaaaane." Geez, I wish he'd a went back
so I wouldn't tear-up every time.
7. "Rudy:" What guy doesn't at least hold back tears he should be spilling when Rudy is carried off the field?
8. "Hoosiers:" What guy doesn't at least hold back tears he should be spilling when Hickory wins the title?
9. "Somewhere In Time:" One of the greatest love stories ever, you can feel it in your gut the way Christopher Reeve loves Jane Seymour. The ending is so great, it brings tears.
10. "It Could Happen to You:" A minor film in Nicolas Cage's career, but the true story is so inspiring and sweet, I get tears wishing there could be more true stories like it.