3-27-2008 The Grilled Cheese Defense

But today, in Parkersburg, W.Va., Bill Clinton made it clear he didn't agree.

"You know, I don't give a rip about all this name calling that's going on," he said.

"If a politician doesn't wanna get beat up, he shouldn't run for office," the former president said. "Let's just saddle up and have an argument. What's the matter with that?"

Hold on a second, here. I thought we were all upset and besides ourselves about the Republican Attack Machine, or whatever it is that you perpetually bellyaching democrats currently call it.

According to your former political messiah--the sex-starved whiz kid from that state lacking paved roads and formal education--thatís all a part of the underhanded game.

What gives?

We were enjoying yet another episode of Top Chef last night before WBRE broke the latest news from Wilkes-Barre. More on that in just a bit.

I love that show, Top Chef. One minute weíre being told of the contestantís weighty cooking resumes, and seemingly the very next, the judges are calling their on-the-spot culinary concoctions totally inedible. And the look of utter shock on their faces speaks volumes about their true lack of culinary skills.

Yeah, youíre the executive chef at some unpronounceable restaurant in downtown San Diego, but your corn dogs flat-out suck. As does your flat souffle, your dough-dominated quiche and your tasteless pasta salad. But other than that, youíre an executive chef hoping to be named a Top Chef.

Fact is, if a simple souffle is well beyond the range of your skills, you ought not be wasting perfectly good foodstuffs on television. Either way, I truly enjoy the recent influx of cooking shows as competitions.

Now back to WBREís breaking news at 11.

Whatís this? A Wilkes-Barre city employee caught napping? My heart skipped a beat while thinking, ďTell me itís not a cop.Ē Itís not that I have no faith in my police department, itís just that every time things seem to be quiet in this city, something stupid comes along providing the hell-bent nosiest of the activists with further fodder in which to politick for personal gain and further sully our image during the needless and unproductive process.

A city employee was caught sleeping on duty? No politics necessary. If itís an egregious, unforgivable thingÖfire their ass. Weíre done here. I have spoken.

Needless to say, when the WBRE news crew quickly announced that it was a parking enforcement guy nodding off on duty, I felt instantly relived. Itís regrettable, but in the grand scheme of things, itís not exactly punishable by being used as an ingredient by those aforementioned Top Chefs that canít manage an edible corndog between them.

Since WBREís videos are not embeddable, I fired up the camera and caught most of it before the batteries conked out on me. Drat! Youíd think I would have checked the batteries levels beforehand, but it is what it is.

So, without further adieu, the snoozing city employee caught on video.


Now, Wifey went right to guns by saying without any hint of remorse or compassion that he should be fired immediately. I then reminded her that, since he is a unionized employee, getting him fired might be significantly more difficult than airlifting one of my bicycles to one of Marsí moons. It might be.

Oddly, I almost felt sorry for him. When the excrement hitís the fan at work, I rarely take what could be called a full-blown lunch. Instead of taking a prolonged lunch break punctuated by what could only be called real food, I keep an even keel by sipping water or Diet Coke, and by munching nothing more than a Nutri Grain bar every couple of hours or so. Keeps me regular, as well as keeping my blood sugar on a nice flat line. I can work hard and long into the day, and without ever feeling fatigued or tired in the least. In short, Iím a hard-ass. Ask anyone.

But very once in a while, I end up working at the homes of truly, truly nice people who abruptly announce at five minutes to twelve noon that the hot lunch they prepared for me is now ready, waiting and getting cold. Itís always greatly appreciated, completely unwanted and there is that part of me that silently cries out, Rutro! A hot lunch? This is gonna suck.

So, having no choice but to partake of the spread theyíve laid out for me, I know where Iím going long before I get there. Yes, the grilled cheeses are wonderful. The chips are fresh and crispy, and those pickle spears contained enough garlic to instantly incinerate Dracula and all of his recent converts. The fresh Iced Tea was a nice change of pace, but now its time to get back to work. Sincerely, thank you very much.

And then it starts.

First, I feel stuffed and as if I can barely move, let alone function. Then, I start the steady parade of yawns and start thinking about how nice a short nap would be. In a nutshell, I feel sullen, lackluster and far less than interested in getting after those subterranean munchers of all things partially cellulose. IímÖIím suddenly running dangerously close to being just like the rest of you.

My even keel is no more, my blood sugar suddenly mimics the highs and lows of a wooden roller coaster, and the task at hand will probably take a tad longer than it otherwise should have. Not my fault, though. Those truly nice homeowners done inflicted all of this on me. Perhaps I should have copious amounts of decals on my truck stating,Ē Please do not feed the animals.Ē

What Iím thinking is, if I could get so easily derailed by a few pickles and the like at 49, whatís it like to be significantly older? Judging by that video, Iíd say the parking enforcement guy has been ranging around a bit longer than I have. So, after 9 nine years of creating lots of adoring fans by ticketing their cars, should he be put out to pasture?

Perhaps he simply needs to take a few easily doable nutritional and menu planning improvements along with him to work. Perhaps I could help in this regard. Perhaps we need a new policy directive in which city employees are barred from consuming anything other than Nutri Grain bars while on duty. Or, perhaps he should be reduced to corndog filler.

All that Iím sure of is, that moment when Jill Konopka was peering into the car only to be met by sleep-induced stammering is absolutely hilarious. Itís certainly not funny, but it is funny.

No, this is not the latest installment of Video Flapdoodle.

What you have here is a rather dated installment of Rescue 911 hosted by none other than the ever-present William Shatner, and filmed right here in good ole Wilkes-Barre. The event date is noted as being 1987, so Iím figuring this show must have aired during the 1990s. Got me, though. Iím certainly no connoisseur of broadcast television.

This was filmed back when the recently retired Hahn pumpers and Truck 7 were still painted red. And then a certain new mayor of ours had them painted white so as to hide the rapidly advancing rust. Yeah, and then a still later new mayor just upped and bought brand new ones. The brand new ones we have today.

There is no standardized test you have to pass before you can become a blogger. Nope, if youíve got a sagging phone line, an aging computer, a bit of idle time on your hands, a thoroughly threadbare vocabulary, some half-cocked agenda and little more than half a brain at your complete disposal, you too can call people outlandish names from the relative comfort and safety that anonymity provides you with.

With that having been said, For Sale: Blog???

Weíre huffing the neighborís missing latex paint again, right?

Weíre looking for anyone who is interested in purchasing the rights to the site, and all of the information and programming held within. We would hope that the purchaser will continue the proper reporting of atrocious actions of the members of the Ďhit listí and encourage the citizens of NEPA to be active and vote accordingly.

Iím amazed. IímÖIím stunned. Iím flummoxed. Iím speechless. Well, not quite. Iím, literally, laughing my skinny white ass off, you total buffoon!

Sorry, sorry. Iím trying to regain my composure. Give me a second, here.

Okay, thanks. Iím much, much better now.

Still, though, Iím, literally, laughing my skinny white ass off, you total buffoon!!!

Sorry. Hee, hee.

Again, sorry.

Whatever. Good luck with that. I hope you get enough to retire with. Maybe you could buy a heretofore undiscovered Caribbean Island, as well as sexual favors from all of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders for life.

Itís mentally-besotted beyond all belief, butÖhey! Itís still a somewhat free country for a little while yet.

And with that, vote socialist! Sorry, I meant to sayÖvote (insert name of clueless Socialist/Democrat here).

From the e-mail inbox Mark
Great piece on how Arthur Clarke influenced you when you probably needed positive influences the most. And a lasting influence at that.

Thanks, man. The weird, almost unfair thing about positive influences and the like is, you donít know whatís afoot until many years later when you finally get to wondering why you didnít end up in prison, or end up killed early on or some such reflective thing like that.

From the e-mail inbox Marc: I was deeply moved by your piece on your father and the pretty rough life you had growing up. I think you have a special gift for writing. Not because the verbs and adverbs are in the right place, but because you speak from the heart, which Emerson said is the sine qua non of genuine prose writing. There is great power emanating from your stuff. Have you ever considered taking a stab at some short fiction? A novel? Screenplays? -FOGLIETTA

Actually, Iíve written about my formative years many times over. Nothing new there. I think the greatest compliment Iíve ever received (many, many times over) was despite everything, despite all that could have been used for excuses for failure at a later date, I managed to put all of that behind me and become the good father that I never had.

No sooner did I hear the words, ďWeíre pregnant,Ē did I start contemplating how what I would do would stand in stark contrast to what was done to me and my two siblings only a few years before. I am far less than a perfect person, I was far less than a model of perfection as a father, but I am supremely confident in the knowledge that all three of my kids know full-well they will have my unconditional love so long as I still roam.

In hindsight, they have never done anything even remotely embarrassing or highly illegal. And they are basically good kids who try to be civil, courteous, respectful to and hope to get the return from those they meet. They are almost exactly as I had envisioned them being as adults, so as far as Iím concerned, I did my job to the best of my limited abilities.

As for the writing, I just keep doing it. I donít know why, but there it is. As for some special talent I may or may not have on occasion, nobody has approached me with a book deal, or an offer to write the screenplay for the next Indiana Jones blockbuster, so I figure Iíll have to keep getting up in the morning and going to work. No biggie.

Ours is to just hump and hump and hump and then be sincerely thankful for the mere pittance we had right before the end. Who said we were entitled to any thing more than that? And if all that I have at the end is the company of my wife and my kids, Iíll go contently. No regrets.

Although, just for the purposes of full disclosure, I really would like to take a shot at writing some science fiction. Hereís the concept: A platoon of heavily, heavily-armed U.S. black-ops soldiers are suddenly, almost unexplainably teleported back in time and find themselves surrounded by people sporting nothing more lethal than swords. And in very short order, they come to grips with being displaced simply because they are being treated like gods. Gods, that is, until their ammo starts having to be rationed. Itís kind of like The Man Who Would Be King on tracer round steroids.

And thereís the most interesting concept I have been ruminating over. Get Oliver Stone on the phone. Or, perhaps, some mental health professionals. Either way, Iíll be right here where Iím always at: practically nowhere.

Any day now, itís going to get warm out there and stay warm. And, obviously, I have visions of mountain bikes and kayaks dancing in my jumbled head. And being that the riverfront project is moving along quite swimmingly, Iím picturing myself and my grandrodents down at the riverís edge skipping a few Obamas across the top of the water.

Oh my goodness! Look at Ďer go!!!