Saturday, March 31, 2012

When I Get Older , Losing My Hair ...

Old people are starting to "friend" me on Facebook.

The other day ... one sent me a message: "Link to my high school page". Why would I want to link to his high school page? Maybe my dad would want to link to his high school page but not ... wait a minute ... That's MY high school. And that was the year I graduated ...

Crap ... he is MY AGE.

I didn't recognize him until I got out an old yearbook and saw his picture.  I remember him ... he was in my Spanish class. He was a little skinny guy with long greased-back hair. He's changed some. Now he's fat and bald.

I looked at my yearbook picture.

Yep, there I was at 17. Stupid Kenny Ogden had signed my picture instead of his own. Kenny, if you are out there, what were you thinking?

I don't remember looking like that. To me, the guy with my name under his picture was a stranger. And the things listed: Senior Class Vice President, Junior Class Treasurer, Poetry Award?

On the page opposite mine was a picture of Ann Mc Nair, my first heartbreak. 

I asked Debbie if she minded if I mentioned an old girlfriend. She replied, "The one you already wrote about last year?"

Steel trap ... that's me.

I thumbed through pictures of clubs and organizations ... some of which my friends and I posed in ... whether we were in them or not. Why did we do that?

We were in high school ... that's why.

We showed up and flipped each other off in every one of them. Now that my kids have graduated high school I can admit what a dork I really was.

If they did this ... I would have beaten the hell out of them.

You know, I'm glad I'm not in high school anymore. The goofy stuff you do when you're that age ...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

No More Girlie Mahn

I started working out again.

I know what you're thinking. How could I improve on perfection ... right? Why spend all those hours in the gym, deny myself a few french fries and go to sleep at reasonable hours.

Somehow ... my wife and my kids (and 3000 of my closest friends) have gotten the idea that I actually need this!

I know ... I told them the same thing. Really?

Truth be told, I feel much better since I started working out. It's been one whole day and my muscles, although pretty sore,  are bulging out of my sleeves.

Going back to the gym and starting over is really an intimidating event, by the way. I've started over about 348 times over the past 20 years so you'd think I'd be used to it. Not so. The older you get, the worse it is. I'm still embarrassed to set the treadmill at the lowest speed ... CRAWL ... and the least elevation ... BELOW SEA LEVEL.

There are a few bright spots. Lifestyles has new health and safety videos that scroll the monitors. Catchy messages like ... "Don't forget to wash your hands after you work out" ... and ... "No food allowed when using the equipment" ... .Some are a little more out there like ... "Just gaze, don't stare at people working out. It makes them uncomfortable". I know what they mean. I reported three women who stared at me the whole time I was bench pressing that 15 pound barbell. They made me feel like a piece of meat. 

I'm glad I'm doing this. It's been pretty warm lately and I know that swim suit weather is right around the corner.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I Told You I Was Sick

Last week, I watched a repeat episode of Modern Family.

Phil Dunphy visits his doctor, who examines him, orders some tests and tells Phil, "If there is a problem ... I'll call you." A few days later, Phil gets a message from the doctor to call him as soon as he can. When he calls back, Phil finds out that his doctor has left on vacation. Thinking the worst, Phil convinces the family that he has a short time to live.

The doctor eventually calls to tell Phil all is okay with his health. He just needed real estate advice quickly.

Okay, I'll admit that I have my Phil Dunphy moments.

Last week, I was tired, had a sore throat and felt feverish. I was sure I had either diabetes or bubonic plague. Debbie didn't believe me! She had a ridiculous theory about a cold or flu.

I don't want to worry her ... so I'll continue to take the Advil she bought me.        

Saturday, March 24, 2012


My sister-in-law Keli's birthday was the other day.

I think she still believes that she is 21 ... not because of vanity ... because it's the largest number she knows without using her fingers.

Keli cracks me up. I've written about her before. There was the time she asked me about Jews ...

K ... "Joel .. you know the language that you people use in Israel?"
Me ... " I assume by 'my people' you mean ... the Jews?"
K ... "Yeah ... you know the Yittans ... how is it that they ..."
Me ... "Wait .. Keli ... the Yittans?"
K ... "Uh huh ... the language you use ... it's Yittan. right?"
Me ... "You mean Yiddish?"
K ... "I thought it was Yittan. You remember when I met the ribbi, Jah Kobe? I thought he spoke that."
Me ... "No ... listen. He is a RABBI and his name is JACOB and he probably knows YIDDISH. Keli ... if I were you, I wouldn't speak to anyone about Jews outside of our immediate family."

And the Easter classroom visit she had with her daughters ...

Keli ... "Eight Bunnies, huh? Did you see the eggs?"
Daughter #1 ... "Eggs? What are you talking about?"
Keli ... "Eggs ... you know the things that the bunnies came out of?"


Daughter #2 ... "Mom, there weren't any eggs."
Keli ... "Oh yeah? Well, then ... how were the bunnies born?"
Daughter #1 ... "Seriously mom? They have babies like you do."
Keli ... "Well ... um ... I knew that ... I was just testing you ..."
Daughter #1 ... "No you weren't ... you thought they came from eggs."

Later ...

Keli ... "You know when I asked you about the eggs ... here's the thing. Easter baskets have always come with ... what? Eggs and chocolate bunnies ... right? Do you ever see a chocolate chicken in the basket? No. So ... logically you would think that bunnies lay eggs ... right?"

Silence, then ....

Daughter #1 ... "Sure ... when you are 3 years old ... Mom, please don't tell anyone else that, okay?"

Recently, I had to pay a traffic ticket at the Hillsborough County Court Building. I was sure that they had consulted with Keli on the design of their security system.

Here's the EXACT conversation:

"Excuse me sir?" Security man asks me as I put the contents of my pockets into a tray to roll through the scanner. "Are you an attorney?"
"Um ... no." I answered.
"Then you have to take off your belt."

I started to take off the belt and then I stopped ... 

"Wait ... if I was an attorney, I would keep it on?" 
"That's correct sir."
"So ... does that mean that attorneys are ... safer ... less a security risk?"
"No. They pay $75 a year for that privilege."

Keli ... really ... did YOU write that rule for them? 

Monday, March 19, 2012

We Ran Out Of Time

We didn't win Sunday night.

We didn't lose, either.

We just ... ran out of time (as Vince Lombardi would say).

Ohio University now travels to St. Louis to play North Carolina. They are an elite team ... one of 16 in the country to move on to the NCAA Championships. We were one of 32 and just like Duke and Florida State and Michigan ... who also "didn't win" ... we were in the dance and we made history for USF.

Nice to hear sportscasters talking about us as true contenders.



Nashville was a pretty cool place.

Yesterday, before the game, we toured the Ryman Auditorium ... better known as the original home of the Grand Ole Opry . What a great venue. They still have concerts today but moved the Opry a few miles away to a newer bigger place.

If you ask me ... I would have stayed put.

Check it out. 

We went backstage where all the greats played and waited to take the stage. By the way, it wasn't only country stars that took the stage ... everyone from Bob Hope to Dolly Parton performed there.

There is music everywhere. We found a great bar ... The Stage ... had a beer and listened to fantastic country music before we headed to the final game.

Right before this picture was taken, I sang my favorite country tune to Debbie .... "If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body ... Would You Hold it Against Me?"

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Basketball, Little People and Country Music

Last night was another historic occasion.

USF beat Temple in the second round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament and we are here in Nashville watching it live. We have never gotten past the first round of the "big dance" ... now we are in the third.

For those of you that don't follow college basketball, my apologies for again writing about our tournament wins. For those that do ... You're welcome.

Wasn't pretty in the first half of play. Temple was all over our guys and we had about an 11% scoring average. The second half was a different story ... 90% scoring average, three pointers from everywhere and a BIG WIN.

We play next on Sunday ... Ohio University.

Note: There was one little thing that I thought I'd mention about the game in case any officials are reading this. Actually TWO little things.

No ... not the officiating (although it pretty much sucked), not the fan experience (the venue was superb) ...

It was the cleaning crew. That's right ... the cleaning crew. They were about 6 years old, three feet tall and couldn't get any muscle into the sweeper handle. It also took a LONG time to get off the court after time outs. Sure ... It's a little thing ... TWO VERY little things.

Don't get me wrong ... I love kids, Just let them stay in their natural habitats at home, screaming at their siblings and disrupting their parents' lives.  


Country Music fans: Go to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

What a great place. You can see giant banjos, triple neck guitars, Jerry Lee Lewis's tuxedoes, Carl Perkins's blue suede shoes, Patsy Cline's fur, Dolly Parton's original song lyric scribbles, the cornfield from Hee Haw ...

... even a few Caddies with bull horns, saddle interiors and inlays of silver dollars and revolvers ... only in MUSIC CITY!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Genius Is Right

Debbie bought me a new iPhone. It's the one with Siri ... the smartest female on the planet.

Because I wanted to get the maximum benefits from Siri, I visited the Apple store last week. I also wanted to know why only 688 songs downloaded to my computer when I had over 1000 songs on my old phone.

I found out that in order to talk to a 21 year old computer "Genius" I needed to make an appointment and then wait another hour until my name was called. There are 50 or so geniuses there to answer your questions and most of us customers are not quite sure where to go ... or how someone is going to find us among the hoards of lost customers wandering aimlessly around the store.

Josh found me. He was my own personal genius.

"How did you do it ... find me, that is?" I asked.

"Take a look. This is what they wrote when you checked in." He showed me his iPad and next to my name was a brief description: Tallish, stocky build, tan slacks, glasses, blue tie.

"Would it hurt to just say, Brad Pitt look-alike?"

"Sorry, Mr. Pitt. What can I do for you?"

I told him about my iTunes problem, asked him about Siri and tried not to appear too stupid. I'm sure it didn't work. But Josh was very patient, willing and able to answer all my questions.

I was very impressed with his knowledge.

"So how long have you worked here?" I asked.

"About 3 years."

"You must like it."

"I do. It's really a second job for me. I have another career."

"Really." I said "And what is that?"

"I make balloon animals."

Balloon animals .... THAT was his career? Apple was his second job? I tried very hard not to laugh when he explained further.

"I have been doing balloon animals since I was 14 years old. Started in a restaurant and made $100 plus tips. I got busy so I trained a friend of mine to cover another restaurant. He didn't know about the $100 so I kept that and he made tips."

"So you two are still in business together?"

"Yep ... and some other guys."

"You have some more restaurants?"

"Yes. We are now in 20,000 restaurants in the US. We are linked by computer and schedule other independent balloon animal contractors for a percentage of the fees."

"Oh ... very .... nice." I stood there with my mouth open ... thoughts of giraffes and balloon headgear flashing through my mind. Who would have thought that balloon animals could be a whole flippin' syndicate?

'Genius' is right.  


We are packing up for a trip to Nashville tomorrow. It's Round two of the NCAA Tournament and another shot in the history books for USF Basketball. Stay tuned.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Basketball and Shopping

Notre Dame was the second game of the Big East Tournament for USF and unfortunately ... our last.

We were ahead for most of the game. A blown layup, a missed free throw and a couple of other timely mistakes took us into overtime and ultimately, a loss. Now ... we are awaiting word on whether we have made the cut for the NCAA Regional games.

But this was NOT the big story for me this week.

No ... that happened one day earlier when Debbie and I were in the bar of the Omni Hotel having an Irish coffee after our big win against Villanova. As I was telling a particularly animated story to our assembled group ... my hands flew across the table (I couldn't help myself) and knocked the cup into Debbie's purse.

That's right ... INTO Debbie purse.

Debbie froze ... coffee seeping through her purse into her lap. There was a moment in time when I was sure I saw a death look in her eyes. Not her death ... mine.

When she did talk to me, it was simple and direct ... "You owe me a new purse. An expensive one!" 

This has already become Urban Legend among our friends ... and total strangers. People move away from me when I eat, glasses are put on the other side of the table and even waitresses whisper when I come into the room ... "HE'S THE ONE. "

I swear, in the middle of the Cincinnati game yesterday afternoon, Debbie walked into the Garden holding shopping bags and I heard Mick Cronin say ... "Is that Debbie Momberg with a new purse?"  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Stan The Man

Stan is ... the man!

He's the Big East Coach of the Year. Voted on by his peers, Stan was the conference favorite for bringing the USF Bulls to an historic 12 - 6 record, tied for fourth place  ... after being picked to finish in 14th place this year.

We are in New York this week for the Big East Tournament and celebrated yesterday with Stan Heath after his press conference (left).

Tonight we beat Villanova and are playing tomorrow night against Notre Dame in Round Two. The atmosphere is electric. For the first time in 20 years there's a likely possibility that USF will go to the NCAA Tournament and compete for the National Championship. (Okay ... got ahead of myself) COMPETE with others for the biggest title in college basketball.

Next stop ... Omaha or Memphis ... or Portland ... or I don't know ... first stop on the circuit.

We have great seats here in Madison Square Garden (can you get luckier than that? Watching basketball in the Garden?) Tonight, we sat with the Smiths and a beautiful girl named Alissa Momberg who happens to live and work in New York.

And tomorrow ....

... Tune in !!! 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sammy at Macaroni Grill

Took Sammy to Macaroni Grill this afternoon. He wanted a waffle and chicken livers.

Surprisingly, they didn't serve that ... so he settled for fettucini alfredo, tomato soup, a loaf of bread and ice cream. He told me he had no appetite. Here are some Sunday nuggets:  

"Smitty and Bert are really living it up."

"I thought you said you hadn't talked to them."

"I haven't."

"Somebody told you?"

"No ... I just know. You know ... Smitty's got a young girlfriend that he flits around the world with."


"Yeah ... Can you imagine ... at his age? She's ... uh ... 78 ... I think."

"Hey Joel ... are you growing hair in front?"

"In front of what? My old hair?"

"Yeah. Looks like hair in front."

"I think my hair stopped growing ... it's now just falling out."

"Hmmm ... looks new to me."


"I got a call from you."

"I know ... we talked on the phone just about a half hour ago, remember?"

"Sure I remember. But why does the phone have it as a call too?"

"Not sure I get your meaning Dad."

"I mean we talked and it still has it here as a call."

"It tells you ALL calls that were made."

"I know that. So why does it show that call?"

"I ... don't know."

Ballad of the Big Prostate

Here’s a little country tune I wrote just yesterday to commemorate a dark day in my history. I don’t have a tune but realized you can use an...